One of my favorite places to drink wine in Houston is Max’s Wine Dive. It’s fun, funky, has great food and the staff rocks… They know their wine. Plus, once you find a few bottles you love, you can buy some at great prices to take home and enjoy later.
I wrote a bit about Max’s Wine Dive last Fall. And now I’ve got more from Drew Starlin, their Wine Sales Manager.
About Drew Starlin
“My first true wine experience happened over a bottle of Carmenere with my foodie, chef, brother-in-law. I don’t remember the label, but it was amazing, smokey, spicy, earthy. He owned his own restaurant and for a few years he truly poured himself into wine knowledge for the sake of his business and for himself. He wasn’t snooty about it. He just wanted to know what he was talking about. He took me to a wine loft near his establishment and we talked for a couple of hours about life. Every few minutes he would gently drop in the subtleties that were exposing themselves in the wine. He would say, ” Notice” this and, “notice” that. It was fascinating. I never drank wine the same way after that bottle.
If there is one thing I know about wine, it is that I don’t know anything about wine. Ever evolving, new labels, old labels, producers that have had their time and are making strong comebacks. New kids on the block pushing the envelope. And let’s not even begin on vintages. When all is said and done, it keeps you fresh. It keeps you on you toes. And like I said, always something to learn.
On a side note, the complexity of wine is sexy. But it is also sexy to introduce wine to masses. Just because someone doesn’t understand terroir or acidity level doesn’t mean they can’t pick a killer vino out of a line up. I love the company I work for! We are bringing wine to the people. Pouring, pairing, educating, trying to expand the culture. With a humility that screams- we too can learn something!
I love wine. Even when I come across one that my palate dislikes, I like discovering why I don’t enjoy it.”
Drew’s Top 5 Wines to Enjoy
One white wine under $20 and widely available in the U.S.:
- Terre da Vino Gavi di Gavi DOCG “Masseria Dei Carmelitani”
This is not the Gavi that I carry in the shop, but Gavi, man! It is such a luscious little beast of a white.
When the table knows it doesn’t want Chardonnay, but can’t seem to settle between Sauv Blanc or Pinot Grigio. This little gem hits the spot every time.
If you don’t know Gavi, do yourself a favor and add her to your arsenal. If it’s been a while, don’t you think its time to give her a call?
One red wine under $20 and widely available in the U.S.:
- Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
The guy collaborates in the making of Opus 1. His reserve wines consistently get rated in the mid 90s. Why would you be afraid to dive into his more economical labels? They are quality. This is a name you can easily find around the country. Some places will crank up the price above $20 per bottle, but I have found it in stores for less than $20 and on-line as well.
One splurge (whatever splurge might mean to you):
- 2006 Rubicon Estate by Francis Ford Coppola
I fell in love with this bottle at first glance. Just the actual bottle, I hadn’t even kissed the juice yet. The bottle is dark, mysterious, enticing and HEAVY!
Then our lips met! And it was lov-st (love and lust) at first interaction. This Rutherford beauty has my heart wrapped up in her dark, juice driven vines forever. Most places she hovers in the neighborhood of $200, give or take. In my subjective opinion, totally worth it!
Two others of your own choosing:
- Two Hands Zippy’s Block Shiraz
For the most part, I am a fan of the Two Hands family of wines in general. Again, I am drawn in by the massive weight to the bottle. I love how Two Hands tends to steer away from over exaggeration of eucalyptus flavor in their wines as apposed to other Australian vineyards. This is a big, bold, lovely shiraz that can pair well with food, or can be gobbled down the gullet solo.
- Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc Sparkling
Schramsberg has long been the unofficial bubbles to the White House. Kings, Queens and Heads of State have had their noses tickled by this Californian during formal events at the Presidential manner. Schramsberg has also carries a Rose Brut and a Blanc Noir that are equally as good, but if we are looking to size up to Champagne, Blanc de Blanc would be your contender. Bubbles…everyone needs to get back into them. Champagne, sparkling, Cava, Prosecco, whatever! Life is short, drink up!