Anthony Garcia got his start in wine in Austin, Texas. “When you’re this poor guy from Detroit,” Garcia says, “and you’re passionate about something that’s a prestige thing, the only way to get access to it, is to get involved in it as a business.” So that’s what Garcia did with wine, working at Emilia’s and at the Austin Wine Merchant, the top retail shop in town. He moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2011, later opening Shift Drinks in 2015, what he describes as a “professional drinking establishment,” where he writes a list for his colleagues in the wine industry, and anyone else who wants to drink like them.
Crémant de Bourgogne and Champagne head up your list of top-selling wines. And there are more sparklers that follow.
For me, or maybe for any wine professional, if we could afford Burgundy, that’s what we would drink all the time. Bubbles: it’s the same way. To have access to [wines like this] might be the number-one reason why I’m involved in this industry. I can’t afford this stuff, but I can be around it. The list shows my preferences, with a nod to something that the guest is going to like.
The list itself is designed to be a conversation piece. I have two headings: Terroir Reds, and Technique Reds. The reason: When you’re training for the Master Sommelier exam, you ask yourself, what’s the star of the show? Is the glass a window to the vineyard or is the glass a window to how it was made? So with certain wines, the technique is the star of the show. The quintessential example is Champagne. If it didn’t have bubbles in it, it wouldn’t be as popular. That’s why we put sparkling wine under technique.
What about these two 1999 chenin blancs from the Loire placing as number three and four on your list of best sellers?
People like chenin; people like acid. I think it’s a Portland thing, to have high-acid wines, and it’s definitely a sommelier thing. The name of our place is Shift Drinks; we get a lot of people who are done with their shift and they come in and sort of act like a baller. The wines aren’t marked up that much—I think both chenins are under $70, and to taste something that old for that amount of money—and you can split it with a friend—my guess is that it’s the industry that’s buying it and the rest is a hand-sell.
One of your biggest sellers by the glass is an Italian rosé (Cecilia Beretta Bardolino Chiaretto Classico Rosé).
It’s a bartender drink—bartenders will come in and drink a glass of rosé. Go look at friends of ours who have a bar called Bithouse. You’ll see that they have a little rosé by the glass as part of their liquor list.
And there’s Katherine Cole’s book, Rosé All Day—Cole is a Portland-based writer. This is a town that drinks rosé year-round.
is the former W&S Tasting Director turned freelance writer for the Vintner Project.