Ask the Sommelier: Chris Kay
Wine Affairs' Chris Kay
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by Stett Holbrook on Sep 02, 2010
Located on The Alameda in San Jose, Wine Affairs is a wine bar and retail shop that focuses on eclectic and small production wineries you’re not likely to find elsewhere. The bar also offers a wide range of wines by the glass dispensed from a high-tech machine that preserves the wines with nitrogen. The lineup of wines changes periodically and allows you to try before you buy. Certified sommelier Chris Kay is the shop’s wine buyer.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in wine?
About six years ago I spent three weeks in Barcelona Spain and met a sommelier. He really explained about the wines which captivated my interest further. Although I have been studying wine by reading and was only familiar with California varietals, this experience opened my eyes to different kinds of wines. This experience inspired me want to read more about Spanish wines and wines from other countries. I learned more and decided to complete my sommelier certification. Shortly after, I was hired by Wine Affairs and finally became a wine buyer which expanded my knowledge even further. Tasting wines has become a fine art for me and it is a very enjoyable experience.
What makes the wine selection at The Wine Affairs special?
We are a wine bar that serves 50-plus wines by the glass from all over the world. We also serve tapas and one of the largest craft beer selections in the South Bay. We always encourage our customers to sample our boutique wine selections by the glass. Customers also have the opportunity to order any of our 20-plus wine flights, so they can taste and compare several wines side-by-side. Our mission is to take the guesswork out of trying new unknown wines and broadening our customer wine tasting experience.
What wines are you passionate about right now?
At the moment pinot noir is what I am most passionate about. To be honest, I haven’t quite figured out the varietal. It’s the most difficult grape to grow and to make good wine out of. It varies from region to region and wine maker to wine maker.
What are some of the best wine values now?
From what I see, wines from Chile, Argentina, Spain, and Portugal have the best value. Over the last couple of years I have seen a shift in the wine industry in these countries. The wine makers are using more modern techniques for wine making. In turn the wines have become friendlier to the average consumer.
What is your go-to wine for every day, casual drinking?
For white varietals, a nice crisp torrontes or a mineraly sauvignon blanc are my every day go-to wines. They are not heavy, but they are complex and refreshing. For reds I try to go with a medium bodied wine such as a grenache or sangiovese (chianti).