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Meet Marc Underkoffler: National Wine Sourcing Manager at Vino Volo

2013
01 October

Vino Volo, the national wine bar chain, joined forces with Vibrant Rioja for a national program throughout the month of October. With 32 airport locations in 14 states and Washington, D.C., the wine bar will offer customers a wine flight of three Rioja wines. In addition, customers who chose the Rioja wine flight will have a chance to enter a sweepstakes to win a $150 restaurant gift certificate. We had a chance to sit down with the national wine sourcing manager of Vino Volo, Marc Underkoffler…

How long have you been at Vino Volo?
I’ve been with Vino Volo since the opening of our 6th location at Philadelphia International Airport; a little over 5 years ago now.

What was your wine “aha” moment?
I would say I’ve had at least two of those – first as a student at the Culinary Institute of America where I realized wine can be more than just an accompaniment to food; then another when I joined Vino Volo and began to really look at the stories and people behind the wine.

What do you love about wine?
Wine brings people together, whether it's a $5 bottle or $500, wine is something that is meant to be enjoyed with others.

What’s your favorite part of working with wine?
I love the variety - there is a literally a wine for every mood, and a wine for every food.

Share your favorite cool, but random wine fact.
In the whole of the Biblical Old Testament, only the Book of Jonah has no reference to the vine or wine.
Vino Volo wants customers to "Discover Great Wine." 

As the National Sourcing Manager what are some of your new great discoveries?
Some of my favorite discoveries have been those small wineries that have little to no distribution, so you have to go to the winery to buy their wine. It is a very personal experience as you are usually tasting and talking with winemaker, owner, cellar rat, accountant, and sales rep all in one person. Tulocay Wines and Stage Left Cellars are a few of my favorite discoveries.

Being based mostly in airports makes Vino Volo truly unique. What are some of the "pros" about being in airport locations?
Well, having a captive audience is certainly nice, but not to be taken for granted. It's really great to be in a position to improve someone’s travel experience and even help them learn about wine while they are there.

What are the new and interesting wine trends you see in the wine world? Do we see any of these trends in Vino Volos?
I think the biggest trend is actually the education of the wine drinker/buyer. More than ever people are making informed choices about the wines they buy and are demanding quality at every level.  The shifting style in Chardonnay is also very interesting where the trend seems to be heading towards a balanced oak treatment vs. either of the other extremes.

How can your guests learn about wine during a layover at Vino Volo?
The best way would be to try a flight or two, equivalent to a glass the flight lets you try three wines and this is the best way to learn about wine-tasting.  You can also talk with our associates to learn interesting facts or stories about the wines.

In your view what is some perfect food pairings for Rioja wine?
I am amazed at the versatility of Rioja reds and whites; they are all very food friendly as well as great on their own.  My usual recommendation for pairing is to drink a wine you like with food you like, is that cheating?

You are traveling for a perfect meal with great wine. Where are you traveling and what are you having for dinner?
Wow, that’s a tough question… I’m going to cheat again and say I’m traveling with my wife through a famous wine region, going to a not so famous winery where we’ll sit outside and enjoy casual fare with the owner & winemaker along with several other couples on a similar journey, of course with a few ‘special’ picks from the winemaker’s cellar.