Make us your home page

Sommelier takes the time to find the right wine

Don Decker, general manager of Wine Styles, says of wine: “It’s all about how it tastes on your palate.”


Don Decker, general manager of Wine Styles, says of wine: “It’s all about how it tastes on your palate.”

Don Decker likes nothing better than to open a bottle of wine with a stranger.

As a sommelier and general manager of the Wine Styles store in Belleair Bluffs, his goal is to help customers find the wine that best suits their taste buds.

At Wine Styles, wines are displayed not by region or varietal but by style, as in light, medium and full bodied.

"It's all about how it tastes on your palate," Decker said. "If you find a particular style you like, then it doesn't matter where it's from, you're going to like it."

The wines are arranged in alcoves against the walls. Above the alcoves, signs tell customers how the wines will taste: nectar, bubbly, bold, mellow, fruity, crisp, silky, rich.

Wine Styles specializes in small production boutique wines from around the world that many people have never seen or heard of before.

"Winemaking is an art, it's a blending art," Decker said. "These winemakers are farmers that love what they do and it shows in their wine. They talk to the grapes and they're there for the pruning, fertilizing, harvesting and blending."

Decker recalled the day one of the winemakers visited the store.

"A farmer of 13 acres for six generations in his family in Alsace, France, walked into my store smiling from ear to ear," he said. "Jean Luc Meyer was so amazed that his wine made it to America and this beautiful store. I was never so moved. It's amazing to me that I can have a world-class wine here that this man makes for only a few hundred cases."

Decker, a native of Binghamton, N.Y., has been in the food and wine business for more than 30 years, working in restaurants in Orlando and St. Petersburg, where he lives. Gerry Minton, who has the franchise for Wine Styles in the Orlando-Tampa market, put Decker in charge of turning the 2,500-square-foot space in Largo into an Old World style wine store.

"At the time I took over, I was going through sommelier school and needed an outlet for tasting wine on a daily basis,'' Decker said. "As a sommelier, you have to taste wine every day to build your palate and understand wines throughout the world. I taste from five to eight different wines every day. I taste each wine before I bring it to the store."

Next week, he finishes the final phase of his sommelier studies, just one level below master sommelier. But he's not going for master certification. "It's too intense," he said. There are fewer than 160 master sommeliers in the world.

Are the prices of these small production wines more expensive than larger producers?

The big draw here is that the majority of the wines are under $25. Prices range from $10 for a 2005 Bordeaux to $179 for a Heitz cabernet made in 2000. The quality and the price point is awesome.

What do you like best about the wine business and this business in particular?

I love educating people about wine. The whole theory behind Wine Styles is teaching people about wines; that before they walk out the door they will have a better understanding about wines. When customers buy a wine they haven't tasted, I open a bottle and let them try it. I enjoy proving this is great quality and you don't have to spend a lot of money.

Christina Cosdon can be reached at or (727) 445-4154.

>>if you go

Wine Styles

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday. Call (727) 518-9463.

Sommelier takes the time to find the right wine 05/24/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  2. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  3. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  4. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  5. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.