The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 130 of 132

130  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2014 C hicago and Toronto proclaim themselves sister cities and share a Great Lakes regional sophistication, but there are no sibling similarities regarding the retail wine buying experience. Gints Brencis, CSW and Director of Fine Wines at DiCarlo's Fine Wines & Spirits, is a Toronto native who originally moved to Chicago to study chiropractic medicine. But his calling was instead the art of the ancient beverage. The abundance of product, and the freedom of movement it enjoys stateside, is far different than north of the border. "Being in Chicago's wine industry is like being a kid in a candy store," says Brencis. "There's so much selection, and it varies from store to store. I came from a land where there's just one retailer: the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. And they're not allowed to go under a certain price." At DiCarlo's, which is in Chicago's northern suburb of Mundelein, Brencis can merchandise everything from high-end wines with cumulative scores topping 1,000 points, to a Sweet Sixteen shelf ($16 or less) and a $2.99 value bin. "As a large retailer, it's imperative that large- and small-produc- tion items are both available," he says. "But some chains will stock the exact same things, regardless of location. Here, if a customer is looking for a specific wine, we'll seek it out." And Brencis is known to convert his many loyal customers from being label- or region-specific to new things. Dry French rosé was once a dust collector in the north suburbs; its success in the city didn't migrate for a few years. Now, Brencis is delighted about its popularity. "Just a couple of years ago, the words 'Tavel' or 'Bandol' were never uttered here. I was skeptical that dry French rosé would ever catch on, because many think that anything pink is sweet, cheap, headache- inducing white Zinfandel." The chiropractor-turned-enophile also enjoys "aligning" people with wines from lesser-known regions and wineries. DiCarlo's regulars have come to trust Brencis with finding hidden gems. "We have conversations, and many people—especially Millennials—are very receptive to suggestions. Now, we have many people who embrace great wines from producers that don't have big production or marketing budgets. And younger custom- ers love Spanish Verdejo or Vouvray from the Loire Valley." THE "5" LIST 3 1 1 Gints Brencis DICARLO'S FINE WINES & SPIRITS, MUNDELEIN, IL Taking Inventory with. . . Gints Brencis, CSW, DiCarlo's Director of Fine Wines (right) explains the finer points of a high-end bottling to an enthused and inquisitive customer. Gints Brencis's Top Five Faves Customers willing to think outside the enological box and try something from a region they have never heard of before. Wine that tells a story and has a sense of place. Every wine should ideally represent its place of origin. Enjoying wine with a group of people who are enthused to try it and experience it together. Finding that "diamond in the rough"—something that really over-delivers at its price point. Customers who go out of their way to let you know that your selection added to their special evening. Gints Brencis's Top Five Pet Peeves Those who continuously buy the same wine or wines. Life is too short and experimentation is too fun! The habit of buying wine solely based on the label and what's advertised. Many exceptional wines come from small wineries that don't have big marketing budgets. Wines served either too warm or too cold. Often, whites are served too cold and reds too warm. Temperature makes a huge difference! Restaurants with an extremely high corkage fee. Restaurants with a nice wine list, but poor, substandard stemware. story and photo by Tom Caestecker, Jr. 4 5 2 2 3 4 5

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - October 2014