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Toasting Stephanie Burkhart of MadWine.com

“Clink, clink.” As the holiday season twisted like a corkscrew into the opening of a bright and bubbly new year, Seattle24x7 raised a toast to Stephanie Burkhart, one of the most prolific email writers to appear in any Puget Sound wine, beer or spirit drinker’s Inbox.

At least once a week, Stephanie’s picks from around the grapevine, brewery and distillery world are unbarreled, uncorked, and rolled across the pixel palette of our desktop computers and smartphones, purely for our drinking pleasure.

If you don’t recognize Stephanie’s emails and “Subject lines” like  “Let’s Pop the Bubbly,”  “What are you Grapeful For? “Bring on the Champagne” or ‘’Two of Our Favorite Things,” you might suspect a secret tryst or love affair was bubbling up.

The love, of course, in this case, is a passion for the grape, or a taste for the good life as an aficionado of fine beers and spirits.  

“Wine,” Benjamin Franklin opined, “is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Ms. Burkhart is the manager of Seattle’s Esquin Wine & Spirits, better known online as MadWine.com.  The emails that bear her name drive sales of a curated inventory that numbers over 5400 different wines and 1200 spirits in all, more than most Websites hold in stock at any one time.  Looking for a hearty Red, a buttery White, a hoppy ale, or a Whiskey blend? Stephanie can help you find it, and deliver it to you at your home or office.

As the daughter of Esquin owner Chuck LeFevre, Stephanie began to earn her knowledge as a receiving clerk in the back room of the wine dealer for six years before taking over as Esquin store manager.  A day’s tasks, from managing the Madwine.com Website, to making room for inventory imported from all parts of the world, is a Northwest-befitting Olympian effort.  

The Esquin wine emporium offers free wine tastings every Thursday and Saturday, with themes like “92 Points and Above,” “Viva Argentina,” and “Under $10 Specials.” Winemakers will often join in to guide tasters and answer questions. Esquin also offers wine storage in temperature and humidity controlled lockers. Rental rates range from $33 to up to $225 for storing multiple cases.

Managing a wine store, or a wine Web site, is not without risk.  Many wine and spirits retailers have been the victims of fraud in the past and have learned to be very selective regarding expensive online sales. The brick and mortar Esquin building was burglarized  in 2014 with thieves getting away with  more than $600,000 of wine from the merchant’s storage facility. The thief, who was caught on video camera, had previously rented a wine-storage locker.  

A year ago, Esquin partnered with Drizly, a mobile app and Web site that can take and deliver wine, beer and spirit orders to your door in the Seattle metro area in 45 minutes or less.  Esquin also extends the idea of “local” deliveries to a great distance — making scheduled deliveries as far south as Tacoma, and as far north as Everett.

What are Esquin’s hot sellers for the current holiday season?  Valdo Proseco is the top selling “bubbly” while “grower champagnes” from smaller vineyards are also gaining popularity. The most expensive Champagne bottle would belong to Krug, checking out at over $200.  

Another crazy trend of late is the “Cheese Shot” with wine poured in and tilted back back from an improvised shot glass made entirely out of cheese. I’m guessing Stephanie probably wouldn’t have time for that.  She’s simply too busy!

Here’s to a bubbly 2017!  Cheers! [24×7]