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Meet the Pros: Chris Struck (Ilili) and Nicole Muscari (VIVANT)

Meet the Pros: Chris Struck (Ilili) and Nicole Muscari (VIVANT)

This weekend, our in-house Somm Team is excited to introduce you to two of our closest industry friends, Chris Struck and Nicole Muscari, two of New York’s most prominent industry faces. We sat down with Chris and Nicole to hear their go-to wine regions, what they’re looking forward to drinking in 2023, and their current bottle recommendation on Wired for Wine. The answers are in! Get to know them better through our quick Q&As below.  

Chris Struck - Beverage Director at Ilili and Instructor at the Sommelier Society of America

1. What are some of your go-to wine regions?

While countries and not regions, Lebanon, Georgia, Greece, Portugal, Austria, and New Zealand offer a great balance of history, innovation, value at multiple price points, and, in the case of the first five, interesting autochthonous varieties. I try to facilitate a greater curiosity of these places in ilili’s dining room and in CUNY and the Sommelier Society of America’s classrooms.

2. What are you looking forward to drinking in 2023? 

Cinsault from all over (I think it’s poised to be the world’s next Pinot Noir in the coming decades, helped in part by its heartiness in the vineyard and deliciousness in the glass), still and sparkling Meunier, Australian wines of all types and from all across their diverse wine regions, and compelling German reds.

Shop German Reds

3. Wired for Wine Bottle Recommandation: Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups Clos Michet Montlouis-sur-Loire 2020

I’m a sucker for Chenin Blanc and its ability to express terroir in an often more interesting way than Chardonnay. Chenin is a unique canvas for exemplary wines that showcase balanced acidity and sweetness across the spectrum in both still and bubbly bottlings in a range perhaps only rivaled only by Riesling. Old vines on sandy soil, with a vibrancy and aromatic vocabulary that speaks to the variety’s compelling nature; it is a wine to think about and a wine to celebrate with food.



Nicole Muscari - Wine Advisor at Vivant, Brand Ambassador, and Content Creator

1. What are some of your go-to wine regions?

My three go-to regions would be Champagne, Beaujolais, and Chianti Classico. 

I love the versatility of Champagne and how it can take me through an entire meal from start to finish. You can enjoy them while fine dining, but also at home with a fried chicken sandwich and french fries. Beyond its complexities and pleasing texture on the palate, these wines continually spark joy every time the cork is popped! 

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Beaujolais (Cru Beaujololais in particular) has really come into the spotlight in the past few years, and it's easy to see why. These wines made from Gamay are bright, juicy, and downright crushable. Whenever I open a Cru Beaujolais while hosting, I know it will be a hit. I also love the region's diversity, as you can find age-worthy styles for the cellar beyond the "drink-now" options. 

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Chianti Classico always transports me to the rolling hills of Tuscany upon first sip. These wines are unapologetically a direct product of their terroir. Growing up in an Italian-American household, we ate many tomato-based meals that I still cook today, and I couldn't think of a better partner than Chianti Classico. These wines are mouth-watering, with tart red fruit flavors laced with dried herbs and flowers. 

Shop Chianti Classico

2. What are you looking forward to drinking in 2023? 

I look forward to exploring more out of my wheelhouse. Being from Upstate NY, I've always enjoyed Riesling from the Finger Lakes, but in 2023 I want to dive deeper into Riesling from Germany and Austria. Riesling is such an incredible grape, and the styles of wine it can produce are endless.

After a 12-day trip to Argentina, I also look forward to drinking more Malbec from small producers, creating more elegant and fresher styles. 

3. Wired for Wine Bottle Recommendation: Chartogne-Taillet Cuvée Saint-Anne Brut Champagne

This is my go-to Champagne when I'm ordering at a restaurant or hosting friends, as the value is unmatched. This wine is fresh and well-balanced, with a round, creamy texture that is impressively consistent every time.


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