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Nick Antonaccio
Nick Antonaccio

When you walk into your wine shop do you receive ad hoc information from the owner concerning a wine you’ve come to purchase? Do you receive insightful comments laced with a touch of humor? Are you regaled with the history of the wine region, the grape varietal and a myriad of factoids that enlighten you and expand your knowledge of wine?

If you answered yes to the first question, you’re in an exceptional wine shop. If you’ve answered the first and second in the affirmative, you’re in a unique wine shop. If you’ve answered yes to all three, you’re likely to be in Art of Wine in Pleasantville. And in the presence of Mike Goldstein, its proprietor.

Until last week. We lost Mike, suddenly, at age 83.

I felt a personal loss, having been tutored at Mike’s knee for several decades as I increased my knowledge and appreciation of wine. Thanks in part to Mike’s encyclopedic knowledge of all things wine, and his willingness to impart his wisdom and insights to his customers, I became enamored with wine, culminating in 2007 when I began writing this column.

When I first patronized Art of Wine, I was a wine novice. With Mike’s help I began my journey to aficionado. Now, as I pen my 353rd weekly installment of this column, I’d like to pause and reflect on Mike Goldstein.

He was the third generation of Goldsteins to own and operate Art of Wine. Beginning in 1915 as a general store and then later specializing in wine and spirits, Art of Wine has been in the same location for all of its 99 years.

Whether I would ask for his opinion about a particular wine purchase I was contemplating or ask for his advice about a region, a grape varietal or a producer, Mike always seemed to have an opinion, which he freely shared, be it positive or negative.

You always knew you would receive an honest response.

At times he communicated his personal opinions about a wine without any form of expression. With Mike, if you asked his opinion about a wine, and there was a long pause before he answered, or if there was only silence, you knew you shouldn’t buy that particular wine.

At other times he communicated visually, rather than verbally. His body language and facial expressions spoke the volumes he was thinking, but prudently withheld. I often experienced receiving his advice and opinion in his nonverbal expressions. The look on his face would telegraph his opinion. “Do you really want that wine?” was clearly communicated to me, sans verbal proclamation.

But sometimes “the look” was accompanied by those biting words. That was the Mike I grew to respect and admire. It was when the good businessman and the passionate, opinionated wine lover would grapple for a response that Mike’s true personality shone. This was the Mike I always sought to engage. A raised eyebrow, even a mildly condescending smile, spoke volumes to me. Ah, the art of wine.

A few weeks ago, I stopped by the shop to purchase a 2011 Port, which has been acclaimed to be one of the best of the century. Mike had been an aficionado of Port since he took over the business; Art of Wine stocks one of the deepest selections of Port in the metropolitan area. When I didn’t see any 2011s on the shelves, I checked with Mike. He climbed down from his perch above the sales floor, which served as his office, while turning down the classical music (his second love) wafting through the shop.

“I didn’t purchase any,” he stated.

Flabbergasted, I asked why.

“The price is too high. I don’t think my customers should have to pay the inflated prices of the 2011s.”

“But I want to purchase a bottle,” I proclaimed, frustrated.

“It’s not worth it,” Mike demurred. End of discussion.

Mike is gone, but all is not lost. His son Graeme has taken on the mantel. The fourth generation Goldstein has stepped into his father’s shoes with his knowledge and rare nose for excellent wine finds across the globe.

I have been inspired by Mike. His memory will live on in this column for many installments.

Nick Antonaccio is a 35-year Pleasantville resident. For over 15 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at or on Twitter @sharingwine.




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