Editor's Note: In addition to being an archeologist and a wine lover, Mike is the Barber in Barber Cellars. Taste the most recent releases from his label to get an even better sense of what he's about.
What do you do at K&L?
I’ve been a sales associate, specializing in domestic wine, for the last five years.
What did you do before you started here?
I was working part time for other wine stores and cataloging artifacts at a University museum while finishing my archaeology degree.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Play guitar, read books, watch movies, drink wine and make wine.
What was your epiphany wine?
My heart will always be in Italy, and I’ve been enjoying Sangiovese since long before I was of legal age to drink. The first wine that got me interested in the business has long since been forgotten, but the wine that really showed me what a great work of art a fantastic wine could be was the 1980 Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. It was bought for me as a birthday present (vintage=year of my birth) and I drank it on my 26th birthday. This Brunello was truly spectacular and the best wine I’ve had to date.
Describe your perfect meal.
Let’s say I’m on death row, it’s my last meal, and I get five pairings. I would have my family recipe for spaghetti Bolognese with the 1980 Col d’Orcia Brunello, a thick cut of grilled steak with gorgonzola sauce and 2001 Sesta di Sopra Brunello, carnitas chilaquiles with La Chouffe Golden Ale, fried chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and 1996 Krug Champagne, and my mother’s Southern-fried peach pies with a glass of Royal Lochnagar Select Reserve single malt.
How has your palate changed?
Working for K&L forces you to judge and rate wine that you may not like and to develop the skills necessary to judge all wines on neutral territory, disregarding origin, producer and personal tastes. My time here has allowed me to critically think about what really makes a wine a great work of art or a huge waste of time.
What do like to drink?
Wine, beer, whiskey—anything that tastes great and is well made.
What words of advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?
Drink everything, remember your favorites, read about where they come from, ask advice from the workers at your local wine shop, and never take wine magazine advice/ratings seriously.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would you invite? What wine would you serve each of them?
Jimi Hendrix, Beethoven and Hemingway. We would drink Scotch and Brunello and have one hell of a party.
Want to drink wines that Mike likes?
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