If Michael Kuperman was nervous about what could be his biggest opportunity as an independent wine distributor, he wasn’t showing it. Starting tonight, the proprietor of Tradition Wine & Spirits will have nearly a dozen events at restaurants and bars around the Twin Cities as part of New Classics Week, featuring new and emerging winemakers from around the country.
The highlight of the week is Tastemakers, a tasting and discussion about cutting-edge wine with nine of America’s new winemakers. The event is at The Lab Theater from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25. Before you go buy your tickets or find one of these events around town, find out Who The Folk is Michael Kuperman?
How did the Tastemakers event come together?
It’s inspired by the winemakers I work with, in addition to the local community. Emerging independent restaurateurs and winemakers, people with a focus on sustainable community. People growing what they eat and drink.
How did you get into the wine business?
Organically. I discovered a passion for wine and followed that intuition and passion. I had different outlier experiences. I made the connection with wine at one of my parents’ anniversary dinners. My dad brought a special bottle. They poured him a little taste, and he said: “Wait. Let’s let it breathe and decant this for a little bit.” So about a half hour later they brought it back to the table and the way the wine evolved and changed, I had never experienced anything like that and that’s what really opened my mind and connected me with wine. That was the pivotal moment of how I organically got into wine.
How did you evolve from an appreciator to a distributor?
There’s a wave of all this stuff that’s happening with the new classics that I’ve been fortunate to be on this ground level. A lot of these emerging producers are crafting in a new way and new path in wine.
How is it to try and break in to restaurants and stores when they have established relationships?
One of the original goals was to help improve wine lists in town and to be able to provide a personal touch and customer service, as well as personal relationships with the community and winemakers. We’ve been able to bring that direct connection to everybody. That’s how we’re able to connect for special tastings for new classics. There’s an excitement and desire of everyone coming together and having that special connection. Having wine that’s fun and it brings people together. Everybody enjoys wine. It brings people together. It complements everyday living.
What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently?
The Scholium Project “The Prince In His Caves” is among those. It’s a single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma Mountain but it’s fermented with skins, so it’s made like a red wine. It has a very unique expression. It’s something unlike I’ve ever tasted. I think a lot of people connect with it in a similar way.
What advice do you give the regular person looking for pairing wine with their meals?
Find something that you enjoy, and I hope it’s delicious. Follow your palate. It should be fun and enjoyable. It doesn’t need to be overthought.
You’ve picked up art as a recent hobby; how did you get started painting?
Organically as well. I started painting after I started Tradition, and I find it generates peace. People can connect on it in various ways. I have two pieces up at Troubadour Wine Bar in Uptown. I plan to do a showcase soon to pair up art, wine and music.
How did Tradition get its name?
Part of the inspiration of the name is honoring tradition, past present and future. That was a name that me and my parents came up with. Tradition being family-owned; my parents are my partners. My dad (Allen, a pediatrician) consults with Tradition between patients.
One of the things that’s important to me is wine and music and art pairings. That’s an element that we’re bringing. It’s more than just a food pairing. Ideally you’re just having fun, no matter what your setting is.
Was this a path you were looking to go down when you were in college?
This is better than something I could have envisioned in college. It’s inspiring.
Favorite Jewish food?
My mom’s matzo ball soup.
Diane will like reading that.
Favorite Jewish Holiday?
Rosh Hashanah. Everyone’s celebrating and in good spirits.
I thought you’d have said Passover with the four cups of your wines that people can drink.
You can have four cups of wine every day.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!