Fine Wine & Good Spirits Wine Specialist: Dave Kuiawa

Dave Kuiawa grew up in a rural town in Central Pennsylvania and had never even been on an airplane before graduating college.

But a 25-year career at a manufacturing company took him all over the world — the only continent not on the list: Antarctica. On those excursions, he developed a fascination with wine. His mantra: “I will never know enough about wine, and I can never learn enough about wine.”

Kuiawa has been with Fine Wine & Good Spirits for almost four years. He calls upon his extensive knowledge base to help customers with wine and food pairings. Whether it’s a grand event like a wedding or an intimate dinner for two, he loves to take the pressure off by selecting that perfect wine for the event.

“Nothing brings me more joy than receiving feedback on suggestions I have made,” he says. “With thousands of wine choices in our store, the possibilities are truly limitless and ensure there is a perfect wine for every budget.”

What are your go-to suggestions for the following local varietals from your store?

Dry red: Cabernet Franc

Dry white: Chardonnay

Spicy red: Lemberger

Sweeter white: Niagara

Fruit-forward white: Vidal Blanc

Dessert wine: Honey Mead

Sparkling wine: Sparkling Cider

With the holidays coming up, customers will be thinking about holiday dishes. What would you suggest as an unexpected Pennsylvania wine pairing for Thanksgiving dishes as well as for hearty holiday dishes?

Pennsylvania wines demonstrate tremendous diversity and flexibility, and therefore there is always a perfect pairing for your holiday meal. If the fare is a delicate dish like Thanksgiving turkey, a semi-sweet white like Riesling or a lightly spicy white such as Gewürztraminer would be perfect. As we transition to winter holidays like Christmas, dishes get heavier and so do perfect wine pairings. With a festive prime rib of beef, a heavier, tannic red such as Cabernet Sauvignon is ideal. If you are serving cured fare such as ham, then a medium-bodied, lightly tannic varietal like Pinot Noir from the eastern side of our commonwealth would be perfect.

What are your favorite PA budget, mid-range, and special occasion wines?

Pennsylvania wines are very affordable and offer excellent choices for every budget. Generally, sweeter wines are offered at a lower cost because of the short fermentation and aging. Wines like Concord, Niagara, and Catawba are excellent choices for those who gravitate towards a sweeter wine. Elegant choices exist at the higher end of the budget: look for beautiful Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot wines that are fermented to be dry and aged in oak.

What is one go-to local varietal for each of the following: spring, summer, fall, winter?

It is interesting how wines can take on “seasonal” personalities that reflect how we feel during those seasons. As a reflection of spring, I like fruity rosé wines that can be either sweet or dry. They are perfect when the weather turns warmer.

In the summer, we often crave a cold drink, and white wines are the flavor of the season. They can also be either dry or sweet, and are best served chilled.

When the weather turns cooler, look to autumn wines that focus on the harvest and spices. Wines like spiced honey mead, autumn spiced blends, and fruited wines make excellent choices.

In winter, a more robust wine is the logical choice for cold nights by the fire. Deep, dark reds excel at this time of year when a bolder, satisfying wine can keep the chill at bay.

What is your advice for someone new to exploring local wines?

When looking for a local wine, I encourage them to keep an open mind and explore the wonderful diversity our commonwealth offers. Whether your taste is for sweet, dry, or somewhere in the middle, Pennsylvania has the perfect wine offering for you.

You can meet Dave at the following Fine Wine & Good Spirits store location:

Location:
Fine Wine and Good Spirits
Premium Collection Store 0284
Bill Green Shopping Center
10 Old Clairton Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15236