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HomeFoodGrapes of RyeGrapes of Rye: Dave Pauker of Wine at Five

Grapes of Rye: Dave Pauker of Wine at Five

(PHOTO: Dave Pauker and wife Meridith Miller have co-owned Wine at Five since 2022.)
(PHOTO: Dave Pauker and wife Meridith Miller have co-owned Wine at Five since 2022.)

Grapes of Rye is an occasional feature to meet the owners and managers of local wine and spirit stores.

Today we meet Dave Pauker, co-owner of Wine at Five.

Your name: Dave Pauker

Your role: Owner

Your wine store: Wine at Five (1 Elm Place, Rye, NY, 10580, co-owned with Meridith Miller)

MyRye.com: Describe yourself in one word.

Pauker: Passionate

How long have you been running Wine at Five?

Pauker: I finalized the purchase of the store in late 2022/early 2023, with my first day here being February 1, 2023.

Previously, where did you work?

Pauker: I helped run a boutique wine and spirits shop in the West Village called, “Terry’s” for 12 years. The owner lives out of state, so it was a very hands-on experience.

What and when was your first paid job?

Pauker: Summer camp counselor during college summers.

Describe your path to Wine at Five.

Pauker: I originally got into the wine retail business for fun and out of passion for wine and spirits. I was in graduate school for an International Relations Master’s degree (I had lived in Shanghai for five or so years after undergrad), and got pulled in by a friend. I just found myself consistently more engaged and happy doing this job – as I like to stay, I started in it for the wine, but have stayed for the people. The people (from growers to distributor partners to the guys who drive the delivery trucks) are simply the best!

What are three attributes that make someone a good match for the wine business?

Pauker:

  1. Passionate – you have to love wine and love trying new things all the time! If you’re not having fun doing this (most of the time), you’re doing it wrong!
  2. Curious – there’s no room for comfort zones if you want to stand out in this very crowded market. “Always be tasting” is our current motto!
  3. Committed – this is a service job, and you have to be diligent and committed to your customers. Prompt follow-ups – at any hour and on any day of the week – are crucial. And the same goes for your relationships with your distributor partners – it’s a collaboration, and not a one way-street. 

Describe your store’s clientele.

Pauker: It’s a great mix of long-time Rye residents, new-arrivals from places like the city, and a few weekend visitors from neighboring towns. In general, most people who shop here are interested and receptive to trying new things! I have a few collectors, but most customers are trying to work wine into their everyday lives, which is great!

(PHOTO: Wine at Five's storefront at 1 Elm Place.)
(PHOTO: Wine at Five’s storefront at 1 Elm Place. Credit: Alex Lee)

Describe the atmosphere of your store.

Pauker: We’re all about customer engagement. There are no signs telling people how the shelves are organized (they are set up by region). We want to engage with clients – we love to talk about wine and spirits here, and make things accessible for people and comfortable with and excited by the bottle they walk out with, whatever the price and application (more on the application later!).

Describe the physical attributes of your store.

Pauker: Brown Ikea-like square box shelving. We have a large island in the back-center of the store where the till resides (along with artwork from my niece, Morgan). This is also the spot where we like to host in-store tasting and education events.

What does someone need to spend for a decent bottle of wine?

Pauker: This is the fun part of my job – finding wine I can sell in the $15-$20 range, that’s delicious and engaging. This is a good place to be for a good quality to value ratio.

What is the most expensive bottle of wine you have ever sold?

Pauker: Let’s just say it was a very expensive bottle of very limited Red Burgundy. I’d rather not discuss the actual price, but it was more than $1,000.

What’s your favorite wine and why?

Pauker: Depends on my mood and the application. Is it hot or cold out? Will there be food? No food? With friends? Am I happy, or having a bad week? Unable to answer this – though I would say that it was a 1982 bottle of Chave Hermitage (Northern Rhone Syrah) someone let me taste on my 18th birthday that got me hooked.

Match a recommended wine with each occasion:

Occasion Recommended Wine
Warm summer evening A chillable red wine
Crisp fall afternoon Red Burgundy, Oregon Pinot Noir, but probably a glass of Calvados (this is not a wine)
Cold winter day I like rich whites like an off-dry Riesling or an old Chenin Blanc to lift me out of a winter funk
Muddy wet spring night Something red and rustic from the Rhone Valley 
First date A crisp white with lots of energy
Date night My wife’s favorite wine of the moment
Anniversary ibid
Breakup Right Bank Bordeaux
Favorite sports team wins Expensive Mezcal. Let’s Go Rangers! (sob)
Hated sports team loses A Martini
Good bonus Expensive Burgundy
Bad bonus Old Chianti Classico or Brunello
Promotion Old Barolo
Birthday Old Barolo
Everyday Right now, German Pinot Noir

 

Thank you Dave!

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