Champagne Connoisseur Spills Bubbly Sip Tips

Champagne Connoisseur Spills Bubbly Sip Tips

David Aferiat, president-owner of Avid Vines, shares tips for celebrating in good cheer with the latest trends.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Champagne guru David Aferiat calls himself "a fool and a fan of organic champagnes.
Champagne guru David Aferiat calls himself "a fool and a fan of organic champagnes.

When asked why he qualifies as an oenophile, a connoisseur of wine, David Aferiat, the president and owner of Avid Vines, replies, “My passion and interest go beyond an exam or initials. Having made wine on two continents, slept in vineyard rows, and spent a good chunk of my life weaving back together my French and American families ripped apart by revolution (in Algeria), and fought fiercely for independence a generation ago, is what matters most.”

Aferiat says that America is enjoying a revival of interest in bubbles. “The big trend is drinking organic sparkling wines,” he said. “They are a cleaner experience, which is important as we become more sensitive to chemicals spread on vines or manufactured with fertilizer. Beyond organic, it’s the idea that what the mass-marketed companies show and tell you to drink is not all there is. Like fast food, it’s convenient and contains no surprises. But there are better ways to live and drink adventurously!”

What’s a New Year’s celebration without champagne? One expert said that good champagne should feel like cold pinpricks on the tongue. Aferiat says, “Quality starts with champagne from the region of France, in Champagne. From there, add quality points if it is Premier or Grand Cru, if it has the ‘Vigneron Independant de A à Z’ symbol indicating an Owner Grower, if it has symbols of certified organic methods and, finally, if it is a vintage year. I am a fool and a fan of organic champagnes with great acidity that make them excellent when paired with food. If I’m just doing a toast or cocktail, I’ll go with a Brut Rose. We have NV Brut Rose, which sells for $60, for example, a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, in a beautiful bottle.”

David Aferiat has managed to integrate his French and American families.

Some of his brands through Andre Tixier & Fils can be found at Canoe, Bilboquet, The Chastain, Dirty Rascal and Le Bon Nosh — the latter two both new in Buckhead. When it comes to COVID, Aferiat says the pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities. As restaurants shut down, he scrambled and went to virtual tastings with local chefs, pairing their food with his champagnes and musicians for ambience, sipping, sampling and enjoying community with fellow participants.

Package stores and restaurant menus abound with wines from South America, Israel and Australia. David concentrates on visiting France, going deep into the wine-growing regions, where he meets farmers and independent winemakers. Outside of France, he visits regions producing organic cava in San Sadurni, not far from Barcelona.

Aferiat’s enthusiasm for wine is intertwined with his Sephardic roots, which he traces back to his grandfather, an entrepreneur who owned a wholesale company supplying small retail market shops in what used to be French Algeria. His father and his siblings lived above the store with generations of cousins and family members until revolution broke out in 1957. With inventory on the shelves and cash in the register, his grandfather and brother-in-law wanted to take their family to Nice. Instead, they chose New York City. It took 25 years before he and his father reunited with the family in France. “Weaving the families and our cultures back together remains a strong theme in my life’s experiences,” Aferiat said.

David Aferiat claims the “best bang for your buck” is a champagne that will not leave you with a headache or regrets the next day.

His recommendation for ringing in the new year?

“The best bang for your buck is a champagne that will not leave you with a headache or regrets the next day. If you drink a low-priced Prosecco and get a headache as a result, you’ve paid twice. Drink an organic, Brut Champagne with low residual sugar, that’s Premier Cru or higher, and you’ll enjoy the experience twice: once when drinking it and the next day with no regrets. Americans are culturally different from Europeans in their approach, especially as it relates to wine. In the U.S., what’s inside or printed on the nutrition label matters most. In Europe what matters is provenance — where it’s from.”

Avid Vines imports only organic, sparkling wines like champagne via chilled containers to safeguard the product. In addition to ordering online or locally from retailers, consumers can get lower prices by joining the Avid Vines Wine Club. The company offers a Wine Appreciation and Lifelong Learning course for students, waitstaff and those who appreciate wine culture.

Aferiat lives in Buckhead with wife, Stephanie, and two daughters. They are members of The Temple and support the Zaban Paradies Center and The Giving Kitchen.

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