Brian Szluk grew up in Novato California, which is just south of Sonoma and west of Napa Valley. He has always had a love of food, and wine always went well with any meal. Although at the beginning of his wine journey, he was a typical guy and only drank Cabernet Sauvignon and despised white wines. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in Business. He has worked at Remy Martin, Brown-Forman, distributors and small wineries in Napa Valley, and his appreciation for wine has grown exponentially over the years. He recently graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with a master’s degree in wine and beverage where he learned from two of the best in the Industry: M.S. Bob Bath and Christie Dufault. He now works for Martine’s Wines, which is a French wine importer and distributor, where he is gaining knowledge on French wine makers and regions on a daily basis. He must say that his taste in wine has grown over the years. He is now a lover of all types of white wine as well as reds and will basically try anything if offered.
Delectable: What sparked your passion for wine?
Brian Szluk: My better half sparked my passion for wine as she is a Francophile. Over the years, her passion and enthusiasm have shaped my palate and hunger to keep learning more, and hopefully surprising her with a new bottle or producer that I have found.
D: What wine region are you wild about right now?
BS: I would have to say Chablis and Champagne are the two regions that I cannot escape from. I love high acid wines, and Chablis absolutely hits the mark with the high acidity. Champagne is always nice to drink as it pairs with everything, and I must say, the longer on the lees the better.
D: What is the most unusual wine you’ve ever tried?
BS: At the C.I.A. we tasted wines from all regions of the world, so I am blessed and lucky to have tried so many. I must say a Chardaki Chinuri - an orange wine from the Republic of Georgia was the most unusual wine I have had to date. I am not sure it’s something I would revisit, but it was interesting.
D: What is your golden rule for wine?
BS: Drink what you like when you like and don’t pay attention to trends. Your nose and palate are unique to each individual person. What smells and tastes good to you is what is correct.
D: Say you’re not allowed to have wine, what is your second option?
BS: Besides water, I would have to say an iced cold Jewel of Russia vodka or in the winter time, a Colonel E.H. Taylor bourbon with a few ice cubes.
D: Choose a movie, book, quote, or song and pair it with a wine
BS: Since the Rolling Stones are playing a concert in San Jose soon, I will pick their song “Sweet Virginia”. As Mick sings "thank you for your wine, California", I will have to pick my favorite California producer, Rhys and their 2014 Alpine Chardonnay .
D: If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
BS: I have had this discussion many times and I think I would be a Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford AVA in Napa Valley . I would be big blue and red fruits, coffee, chocolate, some cigar wrapper, very generous, with solid tannins that make you coming back for more.
Roasted peach and strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, cherry, toasted brioche, white chocolate, slight sour dairy in a great way, dried pineapple, dried papaya, slight herbaceous notes. Phenomenal!!!! — 10 months ago