I met Michael Greathouse seven years ago at Pinsker's Judaica store on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill, where I regularly went to taste kosher wines. Only 21 years old at that time, he assumed the job of ordering the wines sold at the store, and during his tenure, the wine selection grew exponentially. Much of what he knows about wine he learned through that exposure.
A more mature Michael Greathouse, now married and the father of a young son, felt the natural urge to be the proprietor of his own business. He wanted his own wine business. To be entrepreneurial is admirable but far from easy for young people in today's economic climate. Imagine the cost of leasing a commercial space in a good retail location, furnishing and stocking it and paying someone to design a successful website.
Mr. Greathouse found a practical solution to that problem by moving into the existing shop of his friend Moshe Pekkar, the master silversmith who repairs and restores heirloom silver and produces original pieces for special orders. His shop is Creative Silver at 2125 Murray Ave. Mr. Pekkar made room in his showroom full of interesting silver treasures for Mr. Greathouse to install shelves for his selection of 80 kosher wines.
The stock ranges from sweet Kiddish wines to boutique Israeli choices to French kosher made in different wine regions, plus popular table wines from California, Chile and Argentina -- even several sparklers from Moscato to classic French Champagne. Whatever your taste and budget, you'll find a suitable wine at the Wine and Silver Shoppe.
The day I visited, Gerard Meyer, the wine importer who supplies Mr. Greathouse's French selections, was there. We tasted some of his French imports together. (Mr. Meyer was familiar to me as the founder of now closed Chez Gerard restaurant in Hopwood, which for years was a pilgrimage site for Pittsburgh French food-lovers.)
Prestige Cacher Rose Pays d'Oc, 2010 ($22.95). Made from Merlot grapes in a juicy very dry style with great acidity and a long finish.
Damien Gachot-Monot Bourgogne, 2009 ($45). According to Mr. Meyer, this is a declassified Nuits St. George. Very pale color, light tannins and red berry flavors.
Prestige Cacher Cabernet Sauvignon Pays d'Oc, 2010 ($22.95). Well structured wine with good varietal character
Les Hauts de Grezette, Cahors, 1999 ($45). From this winery in Southwestern France, owned by Cartier Jewelery head Alain Dominique Perrin, the well-aged Malbec presents a rare opportunity to purchase an older red wine.
Other wines we tasted were the store's everyday red wine from Israel, Gedeon Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 ($10.95), from the Judean Hills, and a delightful off-dry Bordeaux white blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, Hertzog Chateneuf 2010 ($13.95), which would be a great wine to pair with Hanukkah food such as jelly doughnuts and latkes and blintzes
Pittsburgh's Jewish community will light the first Hanukkah candle on Dec. 8 and celebrate the miracle of light for the following eight days. If you are looking for a celebratory gift for these holidays, it might be time to visit Michael Greathouse and Moshe Pekkar for a bottle of wine ... or a special piece of silver.
The Wine and Silver Shoppe, 2125 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill, 412-421-8330, premierwinepgh.comlibations
Elizabeth Downer: firstname.lastname@example.org.