Erin Holupka grew up in Charles, PA, a small village near Johnstown that was built for coalminers and their families. She first began working for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board 17 years ago, starting out as a seasonal employee before working her way up to wine specialist at the Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in Monroeville, PA.
How did you get interested in wine?
I began working for Fine Wine & Good Spirits when I was 18 years old. After turning 21, I began tasting and learning about the products I was selling. My job offered wine education classes to employees and my love of wine was sparked through the completion of these classes.
What is your advice for someone new to exploring local wines?
Visit one of our locations and pick up an informational brochure that highlights the many wineries located across the great state of Pennsylvania. While you’re there, ask about the selections that we have to give yourself a starting point.
What local varietals would you recommend for a west coast or European wine drinker?
Chambourcin or Traminette are great for European-wine drinkers. Many of our local wineries, like Narcisi Winery, grow European grapes such as Sangiovese and other interesting hybrids such as Noiret. For west coast drinkers, Merlot, Chardonnay, and even Cabernet can be found locally in Pennsylvania.
With the holidays coming up, customers will be thinking about holiday meals. What would you suggest as an unexpected Pennsylvania wine pairing for Thanksgiving dishes and other hearty seasonal fare?
I would suggest Chaddsford Spiced Apple Wine for Thanksgiving. The crisp apple flavor mixed with the warm baking spices is a great complement to the flavors of the holiday. For heartier dishes, I would suggest Arundel Cellars’ Chambourcin.
In the spirit of keeping things local, do you have favorite local meats, cheeses, or other foods that you enjoy pairing with specific PA wines?
I am a big fan of The Cheese House in New Wilmington, PA. It’s great if you can travel to the store — it is a lovely shop — but if you can’t, you can order from their website. They have a wide selection of local Amish cheeses and other foods. You can find a great pairing for any wine there. As far as a pairing that I enjoy, even though I am usually a dry wine drinker, I see nothing wrong with a slightly chilled glass of Fredonia [a sweet, grapey red] with a tasty fruit tart glazed with honey.
What PA wine would you recommend as a gift (one red, one white) and why?
You have to purchase these selections directly from the winery, but a red wine I would recommend is Narcisi Winery’s De Chaunac — it is medium-bodied and fruit-forward with a balancing acidity.
A white wine I would suggest as a gift is Narcisi Winery’s Rosabella as it is balanced, fruity, and refreshing.
Both of these wines are a real pleasure to drink and would be pleasing to almost any palate. They are also so versatile that they can pair with almost any food.
You can meet Erin at the following Fine Wine & Good Spirits:
Fine Wine and Good Spirits
Premium Collection Store 0257
4089 William Penn Highway
Monroeville, PA 15146