Before I was a financial advisor, I was in the wine business. For over a decade I worked in retail, wholesale distribution, and importing. I was in my late twenties / early thirties, and the wine business in the United States was about to explode. It was an exciting time, and I had a chance to meet many of the major icons of the wine industry—Robert Mondavi, the Gallo brothers, and members of the Antinori family.
After college and before moving back to New York City, I worked for a chain of wine stores in the metro Detroit area called the Merchant of Vino. The owner of the chain was a man named Eddie Jonna. I think he is the greatest retailer I’ve ever met. He and his sons were very generous and never hesitated to crack open a good bottle of wine to try. To this day, when people ask me, “How do I learn about wine?” I say, “Drink it.”
While I no longer read Robert Parker’s newsletter and I let my subscription to the Wine Spectator expire, I still enjoy drinking a glass or two of wine every evening with dinner. My friends still consult with me before buying a nice bottle for a gift or text me when confused by a restaurant’s wine list.
My feeling about wine is similar to my views on investing, keep it simple. Don’t get caught up in and confused by the media. Drink what you like and understand. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find a great bottle of wine.
As we head into the Fourth of July weekend and the summer gets into full swing, I thought I would share some of my summer selections with you.
It’s summer, and that means it’s time for rosé from the south of France. I am really enjoying Miraval rosé from Provence. This is the winery that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie own along with the Perrin family. The Perrins are famous winemakers from the Rhône and own the famous Château Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Miraval is light and perfect for those steamy, muggy nights. Another rosé that I have been quaffing is Peyrassol rosé, also from the Côtes de Provence. This wine is fuller bodied than Miraval and has a bit more fruit to it. This wine can easily accompany anything you may be grilling up. The last rosé that I’ll recommend is a wildcard from South Africa, Mulderbosch rosé. This one has a lot of fruit but is still fairly dry. Don’t be put off by the first whiff—it smells like fresh strawberries.
If I am not drinking rosé in the summer, I’m drinking pinot blanc from Alsace. Pinot blanc is grown all over the globe and goes by other names in different parts of the world. Pinot blanc is probably best know as one of the main grapes used in the blending of champagne. I love pinot blanc because it’s dry and has just enough fruit to make it interesting. It doesn’t overpower you like chardonnay. Truth be told, the wines of Alsace are my favorite white wines on the planet. Boom, that’s right Burgundy! Last night I drank an incredible 2010 pinot blanc from Schoffit. It was rich and gooey like honey. I drank it with a steak, and it held its own.
I recently was turned on to an interesting wine called Shebang! It comes from a small California winery that produces a sauvignon blanc, a white cuvée, and a red cuvée. A cuvée is a blended wine made from several varietals. The price point is perfect at about $12 a bottle, and it comes with a screw cap. There is nothing pretentious about Shebang! These wines are fun and easy to chug. A friend of mine calls the red his “pizza wine.”
A little bit pricier, at about $18 a bottle, is a great Oregon pinot noir from Montinore Estate. Forgive me for the wine-speak, but this is a smoky, dark, and full-bodied pinot noir. It is perfect with a steak, lamb, and even a hamburger. I may be late to the party with this wine—a few months ago the New York Times rated it one its best summer wines under $20. If you can still find it, stock up.
There’s my list, short and sweet. I hope you have a chance to drink some of these wines over the next few months. Let me know what you think.