David Choi is a TikTok star with more than 250,000 followers, not thanks to his choreography stylings or musical prowess or contouring skills, but rather his wine expertise. After discovering his passion as the owner of one of the nation’s largest and oldest wine stores, D.C.’s Pearson’s Wine & Spirits, Choi later became the proprietor of the two Napa Valley wine companies, Angel Falls Wines and Magna Carta Cellars. He’s also one of only 60 living recipients of the Order of Agricultural Merit (l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole) in the United States, and in 2012, he was inducted into Bordeaux’s oldest wine society.
Of late, he’s committed himself to a new mission: democratizing wine for members of a younger generation, who, research shows, find their parents’ favorite beverage far less approachable than White Claw or IPA.
But just because he wants to make wine more approachable doesn’t mean Choi is in favor of schtick or — worse — bad wine. He’s spilling the tea on the latest wine trends, the industry’s marketing problem, his desert island bottle, and more.
On Wine’s Unapproachability
“I think there’s a stigma in wine that is so elitist, right? Like it has that sort of…bougieness. Whereas beer, it’s, like, for everyday people or something. Like barbecues. Liquor companies and spirit companies have done really well marketing fun and nightclubs and that scene, and I think wine hasn’t done that.”
On Wines with Mass Market Appeal
“Culturally, in other countries and in other cultures, wine is brought up differently than it is in the U.S. There’s the ones that really know about wine, and really enjoy it and know the elegance and the sophistication and the art of wine, and then there’s the others, which most people drink, which is just mass-manipulated, artificial type wine. And so I think it’s missing certain elements. Tons of people, millions of people love Apothic. It’s one of the most popular wines around, right? Something like that where…it’s not something that I would drink, but I understand why they produce it. That little bit of sweetness. The ripeness and all that candied fruit. I understand the palate of why people enjoy it. But it’s also, for me, not the real essence of wine.”
On Boxed Wine
“I think there was another perception, back in the day, like when Franzia was one of the only ones out there, that it was terrible wine. But there’s a lot of producers out there that are doing more boxed wine, and some people I’ve spoken to are looking into it. It’s not the same quality of, like, a Napa cab, but it’s still a really good-quality, everyday kind of wine. And if you can keep it fresh for two to three weeks, there’s something to be said about that. Especially value.”
On Natural and Low-Intervention Wine
“Oh, I think it’s great. I mean it’s just…what’s going on in our world, now. Everybody’s looking at more natural, more organic, even vegan wines. They want all of it to be better for them. They want to know what’s going into it. Right? Down to the fertilizer that’s being used. So yeah, I think it’s a great movement. It’s something that we’re looking at ourselves. I think it’s super important and something that everyone should be looking into, moving forward.”
On Why Chardonnay Gets So Much Hate
“That’s a good question! It may be the style of it. I think that most people think of it as being super buttery and oaky, but I think there’s other styles of Chardonnay that they’re missing out on. I’m thinking of Chablis or more Old World style Chardonnays. If they tried that, they would get a better understanding. But I think when it comes to Chardonnay, their first introduction into it is probably more of that big oak style Chardonnay, and that could be a little much to take in.”
On His Desert Island Wine
“It would be DRC [Domaine de la Romanée-Conti]. I’ve only been able to have it once. It was out of this world. I think it was a 1990 DRC that I had, and I really enjoyed it. I just haven’t been able to locate anything really reasonable in price, just because I do think that spending $15,000 on a bottle or $20,000 on a bottle is a little much, even for myself. But I’ve been enjoying a Clos Saint-Denis from Dujac, which was like $100, $150 – not even their top-end Grand Crus — that I really, really enjoyed as well. That’s probably more my everyday range of what I drink. But if it was a one-time, it would definitely be DRC.”
On the Most Overrated Wine Out There
“I don’t think anything is overrated, in a sense, because I understand the cost, behind the scenes — especially in Champagne or in Napa, where the costs are much higher, but the quality is much higher as well. So I wouldn’t say it’s overrated. The prices have gone up, but the quality of wine is there. Underrated, though? Barolo! I think it’s super underrated, for the quality of wines. Even Burgundy, which I would never say is overrated, the prices have skyrocketed. I’m a huge fan of Burgundy, and so I’ve had to look for alternatives. I would never want to bash a winery or a wine, but Burgundy prices have gone up, and it’s scarce. It’s small areas, and they produce a limited amount, and it’s a difficult wine to produce. And it’s phenomenal, but it’s difficult. So myself, I’ve had to look for alternatives to enjoy. And Barolos, I think, are still really underrated. And that’s something that I’m enjoying a ton of right now.”
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