GREENWICH, Conn. – Wyeth Tvenge’s experience in the beverage business began with coffees and teas. The manager of WineWise in Greenwich switched for good about 10 years ago, but the skills he acquired earlier in his career transferred nicely.
“In the espresso and coffee business, you use your sense of sight, smell, and taste in similar way to winetasting,’’ said Tvenge, who took over as manager at WineWise in January. “But it has the opposite effect. Coffee gives you a buzz, while wine relaxes you. The structure of wine and coffee is a bit different. You just have to format your tasting technique to the liquid being analyzed.”
Before getting into the beverage business, Tvenge also traveled across the country as a bass player. He thinks the creativity and imagination from playing music helped him find his niche with evaluating wines.
“I’ve always used my finer senses for musical improvisation, so it wasn’t a big switch,’’ said Tvenge, who still plays weekly gigs on bass. “You find that a lot in the wine industry. People transitioning to the wine industry have used their imagination and senses together in previous career paths.”
Tvenge started as a sommelier at St-Emilion in Fort Worth, Texas, and then took on a wine director position at a large private club. “When I first met my wife, she was a big foodie and wine person,’’ he said. “She introduced me to great food and wine. We explored the world of wine and food together, and I passed my certification with The Court of Master Sommeliers with her help. It was a crash course in wine.”
He worked at WineWise several years ago under a different owner, and then moved to a job in Westport before coming back home to Greenwich. At WineWise, he helps manage a facility that has a wide variety of wines, spirits and craft beers.
“The way we approach wine buying is right up my alley,’’ Tvenge said. “We’re trying to embrace the attitude that you don’t have to have a special bottle once a year. You can come in once a week, and get something special. In Greenwich, we have a big European population that likes to purchase wine several times a week. Yet if you want something to break the bank, we have that, too.”
Several features at WineWise distinguish the store from its competitors. There are free wine tastings on Fridays and Saturdays, and a year-old, temperature-controlled wine vault. “Not many stores have something like that,’’ Tvenge said. “The wines are stored at a proper temperature and have good provenance.”
WineWise also has a wide range of spirits, and the store is also one of the few to offer custom designed gift baskets. There is also a VIP Club that includes special events, free delivery in Greenwich and online shopping at www.winewisegreenwich.com. WineWise can also provide a sommelier for a home party.
“I like the people in the wine industry,’’ Tvenge said. “There’s a good sense of connection to the source. It’s an interesting social network that supports both a unique sense of place and a global interconnectedness. We have a good collaboration at this store and we’re going to continue to come up with creative ideas on how we can best serve our customers.”