Buying wine can be a tricky business. Between the vineyards and vintages, the reds and whites and the distractingly cute labels, it's tempting while in a shop or at a restaurant to latch on to the nearest Kendall Jackson and call it a day.
Little Silver's CorkMaven, aka Kristy Niro, is making it her mission to help local wine lovers break out of their chardonnay box and give something new a try.
"It makes me nuts to go out to dinner and sit and watch women just order a glass of pinot grigio or chardonnay," said Niro recently. "I want to help women drink better and order with confidence."
Niro is turning her 20-year love affair with all-things vino into a wine consulting business and is teaming up with local shops to help wine buyers find that perfect bottle to pair with scallops for dinner Saturday night or serve at their daughter's rehearsal dinner.
While she's had no formal training, Niro has spent the last two decades immersing herself in the culture of wine: through travel, serious collecting and sharing her finds through entertaining.
"Hosting makes me happier than being hosted," said the self-described "foodie," adding that she even spends a lot of her down time reading about wine, in books, magazines and online. "I love making sure that everyone's glass is full and they are happy."
Niro also loves to surround herself with fellow food and drink lovers, like Bob Sickles of , with whom she can share great new finds or interesting trends. She even became engaged in California's wine country.
When she and her husband, Patrick, renovated their North Mitchell Avenue home eight years ago, they added a climate-controlled wine cellar to store their treasures, like the three cases of wine purchased to celebrate the birth of their three daughters in hopes of breaking out at their rehearsal dinners, or the diminutive bottles of Sauternes Patrick slips into her stocking each Christmas.
CorkMaven is teaming up with the for a sampling of wines to compliment fall dinner menus on The event will also feature a variety of cheeses provided by Sickles Market.
Niro has been brought in by the Bottle Shop to highlight for customers what's new and worth trying, and in the coming weeks, selected bottles will feature stickers designating them as CorkMaven recommendations.
Niro also has a relationship with Rumson Liquors, and will host a series of dinners this fall for women featuring wines from the store to help expand their wine drinking horizons.
"I find that women often defer to men when ordering wines," said Niro. "My hope is that they will fall in love with a beautiful wine and take it home."