Athens Food & Culture magazine recently interviewed Kurt for their reoccurring “At Your Service” article feature. We figured it was a good idea to reprint the story here so our customers could get to know a little more about our fantastic wine steward:
Kurt was first employed at ABC Package in the fall of 1994. He stayed for almost 5 years before relocating to Asheville for family. But in the spring of 2006 General Manager Tommy Huff called him back down, saying, “I need a good wine man.”
Back in the late 80’s, Kurt had become interested in wine at a high end Seattle bar in Pike Place Market that was owned by a friend. After a few “head-turners,” he was encouraged by his friend to “read as much as you can and taste as much as you can.” Kurt likes that wine is such a huge subject and you can really dive into it.
Although Asheville is really incomparable, Kurt loves that Athens is a true college town – “more affordable with an open-knit community. One of the easiest places to meet and find new friends, but for all its down-home vibe, Athens retains a more worldly, cosmopolitan feel than you would expect.”
What do you love most about wine?
“I think the biggest thrill for me is opening a mature bottle from my collection and sharing it with friends. When a wine that was built to last finally comes around and shows you what it has to offer – the complexity, the velvety texture, above all the intense, incomparable aromas – that’s one of the greatest pleasures in life and it’s been one of my passions for years.”
What’s the most challenging aspect about your job?
“Retail is extremely challenging. Staying abreast of what’s going on with your product – trends, popular brands, new up and coming producers – this takes a lot of research and you have to do your homework. It really helps if you have a passionate interest in these things, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.”
What’s your drink?
“At the table, I drink wine and occasionally beer, apart from that I also love martinis and aged bourbon whiskey.”
What’s the best meal you’ve had in the Athens area?
“Not all that long ago, I had a great dinner at La Dolce Vita. It began with a salad with mixed greens – some bitter, some sweet – shaved Asiago cheese, anchovies , among other things. That was followed by a seafood stew which was the special that night. A white wine accompanied the salad and for the stew a light red, a Valpolicella, I think. What made that meal so special was the balance of flavors, the harmony of ingredients, and the obvious care with which everything was prepared and presented. Furthermore, the wines selected, though relatively modest, were expertly chosen and utterly perfect companions. When I left, I was more than fed; I was nourished, really satisfied. I love a meal like that, whose signature features are balance and harmony, served in a graceful, civilized environment.”
What’s the best meal you’ve had in your life?
“Hard to say. Maybe the first time I encountered gnocchi al pesto in Genoa, Italy. Maybe an exquisite brunch last year at Babette’s Cafe in Atlanta, during which nothing was not absolutely delicious nor less than perfectly prepared. maybe a lunch of exquisitely fresh Hood Canal oysters eaten on the half shell at a park in Port Townsend, Washington, and washed down by cold lager beer. Maybe the juiciest, most succulent roast suckling pig prepared in a wood-fired oven in a restaurant in Cordoba, Spain, accompanied by fresh green salad, bread, and cool, dry rosé wine. Maybe…well, the list just goes on and on.”
If money were no object what wine region would you travel to and explore?
“Right now, it’s a toss-up between the Alto Adige in northern Italy and Alsace, France. I’ve never been to the Alto Adige and I’m attracted to both the wines and the geography. And Alsace, well, I just need to go there.”
Have a question for Kurt? Would you like to know if we currently carry or can special order a certain wine? Please call us at 706.549.1686.