Wine Chats : Chad Gugliotta

Anyone that has ever asked me where I like to shop for wine knows that I love my independents. 64 Wine in Glasthule is one of those places in Dublin where wine is done right. The wine shop/bar represents the current wine landscape so well – if you’re looking for wines from exciting regions like Ribeira Sacra or Tenerife or just want old classics like Bordeaux or Burgundy, you’re in good hands here.

This month, Chad Gugliotta, general manager of 64 Wine kindly agreed to share his wine experiences with DWT. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland - he has worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years in different corners of the world. He has some impressive experiences under his belt; managing 100 Starbucks staff in an airport for 2 years and a whopping 2500 staff during Super Bowl in Tampa couldn’t have been easy.

Chad also lived in the Caribbean managing restaurants for two years where he fell in love with an Irish woman and decided to move to Ireland (big YAY for the Dublin wine scene!). He is a WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) Diploma graduate and also runs a very successful wine club at 64 Wine that’s definitely worth adding to your wine calendar.

What sparked your interest in wine?

I have worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years and have always been aware of the wine industry but I was mostly a beer and spirits until I turned 30. My first memorable wine experience was at Burn’s Steakhouse in Tampa, which has one of the largest wine cellars in the world. For a friend’s 30th birthday we ordered a bottle of Jordan 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon which really opened my eyes to the difference between normal supermarket style wine and quality wine.

What was your first wine job?

I always worked around wine, however the first true wine job was when I managed an Italian restaurant in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean and I was given the opportunity to open a wine bar next door with full carte blanche to build a ‘destination’ wine list. I still like to read over the completed list as it was quite impressive with the likes of Harlan Estate, Colgin, Turley, Kistler and many more stunning USA properties that we rarely see across the pond.

What makes a good wine professional?

A good wine professional is someone who is able to read people. If you ask the right questions upon arrival, you can read their body language to assess the situation. Some customers want to be told what to drink and some just want to be reassured that they already knew what to drink, even if it’s the house pinot grigio or New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

The most memorable bottle (or two or three) of wine you’ve ever had.

My most memorable experiences haven’t been the most expensive bottles, they mostly have been sharing a great bottle with great company. Two that come to mind would be: sharing a bottle of 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne in Meribel, France after a long day of skiing, sitting in front of a roaring fire, enjoying it with the one you love. The second would be a trip to Manchuela to meet Juan Antonio Ponce of Bodegas Ponce. We visited his very small winery and were taken to his vineyard of 100 year old Bobal where his parents cooked us authentic local cuisine and we drank from a porron, which is the local tradition.

What makes a good wine list?

A good wine list doesn’t have to have thousands of lines. It should be carefully thought out, especially dependant on your offering. I would always focus on small producers, dynamic wine regions and producers; lots of organic, biodynamic, natural wines, and native grape varieties. Having a slightly competitive price would also help.

What are you drinking at the moment?

Raul Perez, Guimaro, Ganevat, Commando G, Envinate, Fedellos do Couto, Ponce, Celler del Roure, Raphael Palacios, and some more Raul Perez, to mention a few.

What’s your current go-to region for consistently good, interesting wines?

Ribeira Sacra & Bierzo are by far my current favourite regions. Reds are mostly mencia with some old vine field blends, and whites are mostly Godello also with old vine field blends.

How would you describe natural wines to someone who’s never tried them before?

Natural wines are wines that have not been manipulated. The grapes have been grown without chemicals, harvested by hand at optimum ripeness levels (balanced sugars & acids), in the winery only native yeasts have been used with no usage of new oak and very little or no sulphur added. The wines should express the true characteristics of the grape, the terroir and the region, not the winemaker!

You have so much experience working in the food and wine industry. What would be your advice for someone who’s just starting out or thinking about it?

Jump straight in! This is not the industry to be shy in. You are constantly dealing with people, so be yourself. Hard work pays off for sure in this industry, the more work you put in, the more potential for great job opportunities and promotions.

Your favourite wine bars in Dublin/anywhere else in the world.

In Dublin, I love Loose Cannon, Piglet, Uno Mas and of course 64 Wine. My favourite wine bar in the world is Bar Brutal in Barcelona, amazing wine list, great food, service and ambience.