Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Present I Want

Less than two weeks before my exodus from Penguin, it feels as if I’m on the brink of Liberation. My last day happens to be my birthday. The only other present I want is President Obama!

The Kermit Lynch Lollapalooza Tasting was an absolute unfiltered blast. Emilia and I were a bit nervous about hosting six winemakers in our little store, but it went off without a hitch. It was great to see so many of our regular customers happily tasting the wines, interacting with the winemakers, and eating the meat and cheeses that Emilia selected.

Afterward we had dinner with the winemakers at Abistro. Everyone there, as always, was warm and hospitable, and the wines were showing great, especially Amiot’s Chassagne-Montrachet, which a number of our customers told us was a highlight (along with Thivin’s Côte de Brouilly). We also sampled a few that aren’t currently in the market that I hope Thirst will soon be able to offer. It was a pleasure again having dinner with Bruce Neyers and catching up with him. We settled on a plan to visit with him in France in a couple of months. I can hardly wait to meet Lulu Peyraud, who has had such a tremendous impact on us, and to taste with Aubert de Villaine!

Near the end of our dinner, which was excellent, especially the plantain gnocchi, Nucomme, who manages Abistro, greeted us looking like a latter-day Josephine Baker. She was made up for a performance she was giving later that evening nearby. I wish we could have checked it out but Emilia’s been fighting the flu and we’d already had a long day setting up the store for the tasting. Next time I have to make it to one of Nucomme’s shows--and you do too!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Peek into the Life of a Wine Merchant

Tuesday: The well-attended, festive Louis/Dressner National Tasting/20th Birthday Celebration. Taste hundreds of mind-bogglingly Real Wines in as coherent a fashion as possible, eat delicious food (thanks, largely, to the M in LDM, Kevin McKenna, I think), meet Joe’s rightfully proud mother (again), linger over the ’88 table, and schmooze with the glittering natural wine cognoscenti. Here’s to another 20 years!

Wednesday: A surprise dinner invite from my favorite contemporary sax player, Bill McHenry. Bill made a convivial Indian feast and regaled and inspired all of us with his wise insights into the human condition. Bill, thank you!

Tonight, from 6-8, Michael Messenie from Savio Soares returns for an in-store tasting. Mike will pour two Mittelrhein wines from Matthieu Muller (an 07 Kabinett Trocken with 8.8 grams of residual sugar and an 06 Spatlese with 101 grams of residual sugar) and a Mosel made by Michael Boch (a Beerenauslese with 161.5 grams of residual sugar). Savio himself is expected to drop by. We’re looking forward to dinner after hours with Savio and Mike -- an opportunity to taste more of Savio’s wines

Tomorrow, Friday, from 6-8, a Kermit Lynch Lollapalooza! featuring Christine Boucard, Domaine Chanteleuserie (Bourgeuil), Claude-Edouard Geoffray, Chateau Thivin (Cote de Brouilly, Brouilly), Olivier Savary, Domaine Savary (Chablis), Marie Zabalia, Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue (Coteaux du Languedoc), Fabrice Amiot, Domaine Guy Amiot (Chassagne-Montrachet) and Bruce Neyers, Neyers Vineyards (St. Helena, CA--and the National Sales Director for KLWM). Afterward, dinner with the winemakers and more winetasting!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Fear rules us too much. Now is the time to embrace change.

I've been working two full-time jobs for two years and I'm more than ready to leave my day job behind. Goodbye corporate boredom! Okay, there are some stimulating things about working in book publishing that I will miss, but I feel as if I was meant to be a wine merchant. And, boy, is it much better to be your own boss, even though running a small business is probably one of the most difficult things one can do. But it can also be one of the most satisfying. In fact, it's been a tremendous pleasure, beyond my expectations, to be able to start and run Thirst with Emilia. Our dialog about Thirst makes it better and truer.

The trick is not to be completely consumed by the store. When my father was a grocery store owner, the city required that he be closed one day a week. Now, that idea seems quaint and distant. It was hard for him to stop working but it might be even harder for me because I'm so obsessed with our products.

This is such an interesting time to live in. Scary, yes, but also a time when there is a sense of hopefulness. We are blessed, too, to have the best customers.