Bay St. wine shop under new management

John Ready is pleased about his life’s path.

“If you had told me,” he said, “that I would once be driving to work at 9 a.m., tasting wine and calling it ‘work’ I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Ready, 54, last month assumed the reins of the Puget Sound Wine Cellar in Port Orchard, taking over from Dennis Lei (who started the business about three years ago).

The store was closed for several months, and Ready re-opened with little fanfare.

“I expected that it would take some time to get the customers to come back,” he said. “But I have already built a pretty good clientele and have higher numbers this month over the same time last year.”

Ready, although he’s always enjoyed wine, doesn’t consider himself an expert. Still, he’s learning the trade at a rapid rate.

He now knows to swirl the liquid in a circular motion in the glass, in order to increase oxygen.

He knows the third sip of a particular wine can have a different taste than the first.

And most germane to the business, he is learning about how different wine types are appropriate for certain occasions.

Ready hasn’t tasted every wine in his inventory, but has sampled enough to make an educated recommendation based on what the customer’s taste may be.

“Everyone has their own palate,” he said. “Like they have their own ear. But I’m learning how to recognize different flavors, and I am learning what to recommend.”

Considering Port Orchard’s down-to-earth quality, he does not focus on the expensive stuff.

Many quality wines are available for around $7.50, while those with more discerning palates can find really good deals for just a few dollars more.

“I want to serve more everyday wines,” Ready said. “People don’t have to spend $30 here for a bottle of something they will really enjoy.”

Aside from special sales, Ready sponsors wine tastings every Saturday afternoon. While the price may increase when he showcases expensive wines, this will generally cost $5 for four samples.

These evens are themed toward types of wines, such as those appropriate for hot summer nights or those that go with barbecue.

Some tastings may feature a single distributor (Ready deals with 15 or 20 different vendors, who periodically visit to offer samples of their latest product).

Last week Ready was visited by Tyson Manzin, a Seattle-based distributor of Italian wines. This is part fun, and part education.

Manzin brought out a bottle of Prosecco, a sparkling wine that to the untrained palate resembles champagne. Apart from the brand name, Manzin points out an important difference.

“Champagne is meant to be stored and saved,” he said “Prosecco is better if you drink it as soon as you buy it.” This tidbit of knowledge, like everything else Ready has heard in the past several months, is filed away for future use.

Ready, who was a customer when Lei owned the shop, decided to invest earlier this year after he received some extra money from a house sale.

He is in partnership with his wife, Ann, who was recently laid off from an executive position at Macy’s.

“A lot of people are really upset when they lose their jobs,” he said. “But for us, it represented really good timing.” bay St

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