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Tribute to Barry Alberts

South Florida lost one its most colorful and knowledgeable wine professionals this weekend. Barry Alberts passed away this past weekend. His daughter posted on his Facebook page that he had passed away, I’m not sure of the circumstances, but I will miss Barry. I saw him earlier in the week and we talked about having to get together for lunch one day. Since his daughter’s notice on Facebook the tributes have been flowing in. Barry’s list of Facebook friends is a who’s who of South Florida’s movers and shakers of the food and wine scene. Wine professionals, chefs, journalists, even organic farmers are all there. Nationally know chefs, sommeliers, and internationally wine makers and winery owners were also friends with Barry.
Barry’s real passion was educating others about the wonders of the wine world. He hosted weekly wine tastings, many of those in his adopted hometown of Coconut Grove. He also chose wines and curated wine dinners, especially the “Dinner In Paradise” wine dinner series featuring many of South Florida’s finest chefs collaborating of dinners using locally sourced ingredients. As a wine consultant, many wine lists at area restaurants are sculpted with his influence.
To understand the world of people involved in the wine business is a group of wine lovers looking for the best wines to show off to our customers. We are not looking for mass produced wines, but rather wines made by passionate winemakers. At wine luncheons Barry would often query wine makers about the small details, maybe soil, or type of oak used that made a certain wine unique. His inquiring mind is what gave him his vast knowledge. We often kidded Barry, if there was one empty seat at a wine event, Barry would stroll in at the last minute, we all knew that seat was usually Barry’s, who was running late with his busy schedule. All tastings from now on should have an empty seat set aside; surely Barry’s presence will be felt in the room. Another thing that sets wine pros apart from others is are joy of sharing wines with other like-minded people. We acquire special bottles and store them with care with the thought we will share them when they are ready to drink with other wine lovers. We are not collectors who like to brag about spending hundreds or thousands of dollars (usually we don’t have that much dough) on special bottles for bragging rights, which may or may never be opened only to be sold again. We love sharing and drinking wine with other like-minded wine lovers.
And while I sat with Barry at many wine events and spoke with him on the phone monthly, I’m not very familiar with his private life. I know he was either born in Missouri or Oregon and grew up in one of those states. He had a son who just finished a tour in the Marines and a teen-aged daughter. He was also a lover of music.
I will miss you Barry.

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