Nicole’s foray into wine started with a trip to Napa Valley for the 2014 harvest. Nicole loves the stories of the people and places that lie behind every wine label. From fine wine to humble, her love of all wines is infectious. Her simple and educational approach has made her one of New York’s most notable wine influencers.
You worked as a professional dancer and in the fashion industry. What got you interested in wine?
Dance has always been my passion. I started when I was three years old and earned a BFA in Dance from the University of Buffalo. I traveled the world for six years performing for companies like Carnival Cruise Lines and Walt Disney World. When I retired from dance in New York, I immediately started my fashion career. It seemed no matter how high I climbed the corporate ladder, no longer dancing left something missing. Cue wine. It was a trip to Napa Valley during harvest in 2014 that really made me fall in love with wine. There was so much artistry and passion from vineyard to cellar. I knew I needed to be a part of it. When I returned to New York I immediately signed up for the WSET program and the rest is history.
Walk us through your wine journey, from discovery to becoming a professional with a focus on responsibly made wines.
When I first started discovering wine, I drank mostly mass-produced wine that you find just about anywhere. Through my WSET studies and enotourism, I discovered smaller producers making responsible wines. These wines seemed to vibrate. One of my favorite Champagne producers told me “what you give to the land, the land will give you.” That really resonated with me.
What’s so unique about VIVANT and Live Experiences compared to how you’ve previously shared your wine knowledge online?
VIVANT is great because it’s completely immersive and interactive. Wine lovers can spend time with like-minded individuals and not only taste, but learn and test their wine knowledge as well.
What impact do you see VIVANT having on the future of wine?
I think the way we interact with wine will never be the same again. People will be able to feel comfortable in their own home while experiencing a full virtual “wine event” right in their living room. VIVANT is adding responsible producers all the time to introduce to our members, expanding their knowledge and palates.
You are one of New York’s most notable wine influencers. What made you want to share your passion and knowledge on VIVANT?
My blog is all about making wine fun and approachable and I think that’s congruent with VIVANT’s vision. Wine can feel intimidating and exclusive, but really, it’s just meant to be enjoyed.
We know you’re a big fan of the Loire Valley. What is it you love about the region?
What don’t I love about this region?! When it comes to the wine, I absolutely love the diversity in styles. Dry whites, reds, sparkling, dessert wine, off-dry rosé…you name it, they make it. If you’re a history buff, the châteaux, landscape and architecture are unrivaled. Last but not least, the people! The people of the Loire are some of the most hospitable and humble people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
What’s the next region on your list to visit and why?
Saint-Émilion in Bordeaux! I was supposed to visit Saint-Émilion in April 2020, however that trip was canceled due to obvious reasons. I just love the velvety wines of the right bank, and I’m a sucker for a medieval city. The village of Saint-Émilion and the city of Bordeaux are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, so I’m really looking forward to exploring.
What’s your advice for someone just starting to learn about wine?
Don’t feel intimidated and just dive in head first. Buy the books, attend the tastings, immerse yourself in all things wine, and always keep an open mind. Just because you don’t like Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand doesn’t mean you won’t love Sancerre.
Okay, Nicole Muscari, alias Grape Chic. What does it mean to be Grape Chic?
The “Chic” in Grape Chic really came from my time working in the fashion industry in New York City. My husband also works in fashion, so if you come to our house, you’ll probably hear us chat about the latest trends and our favorite brands. I also think there’s a finesse and artistry that applies to both wine and fashion. They are both created from a vision and tell a story.
An underrated wine or grape variety people should know about?
I think there are a ton of underrated wines from the Languedoc region. A few favorites would be Faugères, Minervois and Corbières.
If you could share a glass of wine with one person dead or alive, who would it be and what would you drink?
Coco Chanel and champagne, of course.
Are you Curious by Nature?
Yes! I’m always in search of the next great responsible wine.
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