As a wine expert with more than three decades of experience in the industry, Bruce Nichols is known for his expertise in helping select the finest wines, vintners, and master sommeliers for the much-anticipated Naples Winter Wine Festival, coming up January 27-29. He is also founder and owner of Naples Wine Solutions, a consulting firm, and online newsletter A Nichols Worth of Wine. Originally from Philadelphia, Nichols and his wife, Jill, have been North Naples residents since 2004.
Nichols shares some favorite spots in Naples, his picks for value and dream wines, and more.
1. Wine essentials: A double-hinged corkscrew with a built-in foil cutter, appropriate glassware, and great wine, which doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Some favorite value wines are Cusumano Nero d’Avola, a red grape indigenous to Sicily, and in whites it’s Calera Chardonnay from California’s Central Coast.
2. Great escape: The South of France, particularly around Antibes and Villefranche. I love visiting the open market inside the ancient walls of Antibes and the Renoir Museum, in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, where the artist spent the last 12 years of his life.
3. Best read: Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, a book I first read 40 years ago that still brings inspiration to this day.
4. Favorite charity: The Naples Children & Education Foundation. I’ve seen the difference it has made in the lives of thousands of underserved and at-risk children in our community through the fundraising efforts of the Naples Winter Wine Festival.
5. Must-attend event: The Men’s Tailgate Party for The Shelter for Abused Women & Children by the Gentle’men Against Domestic Violence, which is run by some of Naples’ most powerful men whose compassion for this cause is immense.
6. Favorite artist: Pierre Bonnard, a French post-Impressionist painter whose use of radiant colors to depict emotional scenes (many in the French countryside) are so moving.
7. Bucket list topper: Visiting the vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay Region of New Zealand.
8. Favorite wine: 2002 Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche, a red Burgundy, is my “desert island” wine, and Donelan Venus Roussanne/Viognier from Sonoma is the best white wine on the market today.
9. Naples’ best-kept secret: Amore Ristorante in the Neapolitan Way Shopping Center.
10. Guilty pleasure: Philly cheesesteaks at Joey D’s Restaurant and Bar in North Naples; they are as close to the real deal you’ll ever get.
11. Go-to dessert: The tiramisù at Osteria Tulia is so light, it almost floats off your plate.