Amanti Vino

Sharon Sevrens is a former investment banker, whose love for wine led her to become a sommelier and open a boutique wine store. Amanti Vino is home to the only Wine and Spirit Education Trust school in New Jersey. It offers education for all levels, from Foundation (a two-evening class with a focus on food-and-wine pairing techniques) to a rigorous 16-week advanced program. Along with classes, the store offers frequent tastings and beer and wine clubs.

Tell us about your inventory.
We have about 900 wines, 200 craft beers and 150 artisanal spirits. I taste thousands of wines each year and bring in the best in class for each region, varietal and price point. My inventory is always rotating. Most of my producers are boutique producers and don’t make huge quantities of any one wine. When a vintage changes, the wine may drink very differently. I always taste the new vintages and reassess the wine’s right to a spot on the shelf.

 What will a novice learn in your Wine 101 class?

Classes are a fun combination of lecture, discussion, anecdotes, photographs and, of course, lots of tasting! I pepper my discussions with tips such as how to keep the bubbles in a bottle of champagne without a stopper; how to assess whether a wine is “off,” or just not to your taste; and the truth about sulfites in wine.

You also carry artisanal beers. What tasting tips can you offer beer drinkers ?
Tasting beer is a lot like tasting wine in that you need to look, smell and then taste. With beer, it is critical to pour it into a glass so that you can assess its color and aroma. The color indicates the flavor. Dark beers often have notes of coffee and chocolate; pale beers commonly have biscuit or doughy bread notes. Using a glass allows the aromas to become more pronounced.

My second tip is to learn about beer. The more you know, the more you can appreciate the nuances. My go-to book is Garrett Oliver’s The Brewmaster’s Table. It’s in layman’s terms with educational lessons and fun anecdotes. Amanti Vino also offers beer classes.

What is the most common mistake people make when pairing wine with food?
Pairing champagne with dessert. Brut champagne is dry and works with most foods (provided that they aren’t sweet). You want your wine to be as sweet as—if not sweeter than—the food.

Another mistake is a fear of wine with a little sweetness. Off-dry Riesling pairs with virtually all foods from sushi and Chinese to something with spice. Even if you don’t like sweeter wine on its own, it works beautifully with most foods.

And don’t forget about sherry and beer for your tougher pairing challenges. While vinaigrette is difficult to pair with wine, it works with many craft beers as well as with a Fino sherry.

Which wines are you most excited about right now?
In addition to champagne and Riesling, I am passionate about Burgundy, Barolo and Rioja. What’s really exciting to me are the wonderful value wines that are available. You can find exceptional bottles for $10-$20. We have several hundred under $20!

30 Church St, Montclair; 973-509-9463;

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