The landscape of wine selection has shifted rapidly in the last couple of months, turning the process of fermented grape-choosing on its head. Some might say that the 180-degree flip is for the best; for others, it has left a vinegar taste in their mouths.
When the Main Market Co-op opened in the core of Spokane’s downtown, it debuted a formidable wine selection made by Carl Carlsteen.
Now, after eight years at Rocket Market, Carlsteen gets to work at the same local store as his wife and, according to him, to be a part of something really great. At the Co-op, he says, “There’s a little more of a focus on local wines and sustainable agriculture. It’s an opportunity to be a part of something new, to bring people to the core of Spokane.”
While some patrons of the tiny South Hill landmark, the Rocket Market, gasped when they heard the news that Carlsteen had left, the decanter didn’t stay empty for long.
Wine expert Matt Dolan — who has paired wine with food at restaurants such as the Downriver Grill, Wild Sage and Fugazzi — has slipped into the rather large shoes that Carlsteen left. With all his restaurant expertise, Dolan intends to make the Rocket’s weekly wine tastings an even more comfortable and soothing dining-like experience.
At a recent tasting hosted by Dolan, attendee Maryanne Gaddy described Carlsteen’s classes. “They were very enjoyable,” she said. “Carl is very personable. The best part of getting to know Carl was that you get to learn his tastes, and then you can gauge them against your own.”
Now Dolan will take over at Rocket Market. And while Carlsteen’s tastes have been traded for Dolan’s, both can thankfully still be found in Spokane. Sadly, however, Carlsteen will no long offer his coveted classes. At the Co-op, he has chosen to focus his attention on offering advice to customers about wine selection.
Dolan appears to have taken the Rocket helm with ease — he has the same passion for people and wine that Carlsteen does. Both wine experts promise to continue the handwritten tags and to continue to selectively yank wine off the pedestal and place it where it belongs — in the hands and in the mouths of everyone.
“Wine is for the people,” Carlsteen says, “and I’m glad to bring it to them.”