Making Wine Simple With Anthony Giglio

If you were to pour a glass of Anthony Giglio, it would be a complex and powerful red, with accents of tar and smoky, spicy notes. And it would be very drinkable. And overflowing.

I caught up with the gregarious wine expert, author of 10 books and contributor to a variety of magazines, at the Beaver Creek Food & Wine weekend, where I was late to his wine tasting seminar because I thought it would be boring. Boy, was I wrong.

In his talk, Giglio waxed wise on anything highfalutin about wine, knocked rich snobs who collect wine; "if you're not drinking them, then those crates are just caskets—they're dying," he said. And he reminded everyone that, in the end, "wine is just fermented grape juice."

Giglio knows what's good about wine, and better than that, what's wrong with wine drinkers. For one thing, we're too afraid to ask questions. For another, we believe in myths, such as red wines needing to be served at room temperature. Wrong. Depending on the type, most should be served lower, as low as 55 degrees, according to Giglio.

He began drinking wine "in utero;" an Italian-American child growing up in Jersey City. He drank what they called, "spaghetti spritzers," as a young child—a mix of wine with cream soda. When he was older, he studied to be a sommelier, but not to work the floor; he wanted to earn his diploma to inform his writing about wine, getting his start in the business as a managing editor of Wine Enthusiast.

He is a much sought-after speaker, conducting dozens of engagements in a year. And if we can't bottle him, I'd suggest making an app out of the guy. During a banquet meal at Beaver Creek, he served as an intrepid and user-friendly guide, dexterously matching wines with foods.

And he says he's still learning. Giglio waxes on about a recent revelation, five years ago, that his beloved red wine pairing with cheese was short-sighted. Whites could be just as good, if not better, with a cheese plate. "High acid and high fat content," he gushes, as if he had discovered how to split an atom. "It makes perfect sense!"

I'm a wine idiot. I just know I don't like tannins. Where should I start?

Own your palate, like what you like. A lot of people confess to me that they like Chardonnay. That's great. And now, let's see what else you may like that's like that. We Americans are so confident and opinionated in so many facets of life. But when it comes to wine, we are so afraid. I would say, go to a retailer and say, "I'd like 10 minutes with someone who is available to tell me about wines." And if they don't help you out, you should leave.

What if I don't want to spend more than $15 on a bottle of wine?

That's OK. Look, I've gone to restaurants with my wife on a Monday night and said, "We have 90 minutes to get back to the sitter and I have 35 bucks for wine. What have you got?" I've done it at Le Bernardin, and I've done it at Lutèce. The point is, you are doing them a great service by giving them something to do. Most people just say, "Give me a Chardonnay," because they are terrified of the sommelier.

How would you compare the different regions of wine drinkers?

It would have been easier to answer that question 15 years ago, when the bookends of the country, in broad strokes, were red wine drinkers and, in the middle, it was anything. It used to be 75% white and 25% red; and now, it's the majority red. There's been a quantum shift.

What do you think about younger generations discovering wine?

It's great. If we can get people to drink wine and be passionate, they'll all move up the ladder from what we call "critter" wines; the ones with cute, fuzzy labels. It's fine, let them drink critter wines.

Like Fat Bastard; what do you think of that wine?

I think it's hilarious. There's a place for that. If I am going to a party of 100 people, I'll bring a six pack of Fat Bastard before I'll take a great $60 bottle of wine. What's the point? We're supposed to be sharing it and enjoying it—not contemplating it.

So, you like Fat Bastard?

It's decent. It's perfectly fine. Look, even at the lowest levels, wine making in America has become so perfected. Even cheap wines are now better made than the best wines 20 years ago.

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