Owners Keith Shewbert and Jeanette Osowski of 45 South Cafe are bringing back their monthly wine tastings at the cafe and their newest venture, Chocolate Perks in downtown Duluth.
Wine consultant Michelle Nguyen-Foust, who worked with the owners two years ago and helped run the wine tastings and build the retail wine side of 45 South, is working with them again on growing the wine side of the two businesses. Patch spoke with Nguyen-Foust to get the scoop on the revived happenings.
The wine tastings will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 45 South Cafe in Norcross and the same time Thursday, Nov. 8, at Chocolate Perks in Duluth. Tickets are $15, and the tastings will continue on the first Wednesday at 45 South and first Thursday at Chocolate Perks of every month.
What can people expect when they attend the wine tastings?
I like to conduct wine tastings so people feel like they are sitting in my living room, enjoying wine. Wine should be enjoyed, not feared. That has always been my philosophy in all the years I have been in the industry. One of the most important things to me is to make sure everyone sits at one big table. I really love family style seating. I feel it relaxes everybody and creates an environment for open dialogue between the guests and also myself. I enjoy hearing different thoughts on the wine as every one's palates are different. As I pour the wine, I tell the story of it. The region, the grape, winemaker, the family that owns it, etc. Wine is personal to everyone involved in the process from growing to table which is the feeling I want you to experience. I provide tasting notes that are easy to understand with suggested pairings. Then we open the table to discussion and questions.
What kind of wines will be offered at the tastings?
I focus on and support small and family owned/run wineries as much as I can. I love finding hidden jewels from all over the world in well known regions and introducing people to obscure regions that make amazing wines. Each tasting will have a theme or central focus. For November it will be Thanksgiving, December will be Wines for Celebration, January is Wine 101- How to interpret a wine label and order wine from a restaurant. We will also focus on Female Winemakers at a tasting soon. Additionally, the importers and distributors I use do not carry massed produced wines from large corporations
You're also helping the Keith and Jeanette with building their wine business. How do you decide which wines are best for their shops?
A lot goes into deciding wine, especially when buying for more than one place. In any business, demographics are important. What is popular in one neighborhood may not be in the other. The thing I look for the most is uniqueness. I want Keith and Jeanette to be able to offer a product that you can't just go and pick up at a grocery store. Something that keeps people coming back to see what we have found and be excited to try it. Something unique and esoteric, like Keith and Jeanette and their cafes. Price also is a factor. Great wine doesn't have to be expensive. There will be times when wines are priced higher based on limited production but the $50 bottle isn't necessarily better than the $15 bottle. Also, customer requests are always taken into account and special orders can always be placed.
What is your company name and how long have you been in the wine business?
Recently a colleague of mine merged our companies and became Vintage Zero. I have been in the business collectively for about nine years. Our company is located out of Atlanta but we service clients in all areas.
What's your personal favorite wine?
I often get asked the question "If you could only drink one type of wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?" The answer is always the same: Nero d'Avola. It is a red grape indigenous to Sicily.
What do you love about wine?
To me wine is art. It is capable of so many different things and so many interpretations.
- Norcross' 45 South Cafe Buys Duluth's Chocolate Perks
- Wine Tasting Wednesday at 45 South Cafe