Name: Joe Zugelder
What’s your position at K&L and how long have you been with the company?
I buy the Old and Rare wines for K&L—from auctions, private parties, etc. I started here with a summer job—one of my bosses, Todd Zucker played hoops for my dad at Hillsdale High School. That was my “in.” I’ve been here for 30-odd—very odd—years.
What did you do before you started working here?
I was a baby, then a teenager. Seriously, I cleaned a meat-packing plant when I was in High School—a “gutsy” move for a pescatarian.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Write songs, ride bicycles, run in hills, write stories, drink wine and eat popcorn.
What’s your favorite movie?
A Hard Day’s Night.
What was your “epiphany wine”—the bottle or glass that got you interested in wine? Is there a current wine that you consider the equivalent?
The first wine I ever tried was Paul Masson Rhine Castle. I was too young to imbibe legally, which no doubt made it taste even better. Then Clyde gave me a bottle of Ackerman Vouvray to taste. I saw the rest of the universe at that moment.
Describe your perfect meal (at a restaurant or prepared at home). What wine(s) would you pair with it?
At home for sure. Breads and cheeses. Let’s try this: Sashimi with a Francois Jobard Meurault Genevrieres with a few years age. Mushroom risotto with ’66 BV Private Reserve. Or ’89 Lynch-Bages. Or ‘96 Rostaing Côte Rôtie La Landonne ‘cause I had it last night!
How do you think your palate’s changed over the years?
It’s gotten older, hahaha. Less sweet stuff. Less tolerance for high alcohol offerings. I went through the first phase of that in the ’70s with drought year Zinfandels.
What do you like to drink?
Any and all. Bubbles. Funky old reds. I have the perfect job for that. When was the last time you could say that you had ‘68 Hanzell Chardonnay or ’74 Ridge cold-pressed Ruby Cabernet? Come to think of it, there may be a good reason you don’t say that…
What words of advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?
Swirl. Smell. Drink. Pay attention. Match wine with memories. Drinking wine is like playing the piano—you don’t need to know a thing to enjoy it.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would you invite? What wine would you serve each of them?
What a geeky question! Leonardo Da Vinci, Paul McCartney and my Dad. Da Vinci would serve science and invention; Paul would serve music and laughter. My Dad would serve basketball and wisdom. They are the servers. The wine would be secondary—you see, the magic would come with what they bring to the table, not me.