At any given time in the tiny coastal town of Mt Pleasant, SC, you’re likely to find a large, bearded, Italian man sabering a champagne bottle with a wine glass. Or a chef’s knife. Or an actual saber… The tool is as arbitrary as the occasion, you’ll just have to know where to look…
This large man with an accent as thick as his beard, is married to a dear friend of mine: jewelry designer Annie van Harlingen of Van H, which is how I discovered this little taste of Italy smack dab in the middle of the South. Located directly across the bay from Charleston, Rudi’s Old Village Wine shop is just a 15 minute drive from Charleston’s bustling downtown, but you’ll swear it’s closer to Rome. Everyone’s guilty favorite rome-ance, The Notebook was filmed in the quaint town of Mt Pleasant - and you’re guaranteed to fall in love with its charm. Nestled into a strip of boutiques and restaurants, Rudi’s prefers exotic flair to local fair. Forget pimento cheese, you come to Rudi’s when you’re looking for an authentically European experience. One that offers 150 wines on tap to taste before taking home an obscure bottle of your own.
Where in Italy are you from?
Bologna, Italy, a midsize town between Venice and Florence.
What made you move to Charleston?
A beautiful woman.
What is your history/background with wine?
It is all about my personal experience as a buyer/consumer in my early years with my father, going around italy and buying wine for our cellar.
What makes Rudi's Wine Shop so special?
I specialize in vintage and rare wines, focusing on Italian and French labels. I spend most of my days researching and buying wine in auctions all over the word to find the vintage I want.
What is your personal favorite type of wine and why?
Barbaresco, barbaresco and barbaresco. A piedmont wine with a strong character and complex bouquet, it’s a wine that needs to age 25-30 years to fully reach its mature stage and only at that moment do all of the flavors like vanilla, tobacco, wood and black cherry … reveal themselves.
What 3 tips would you offer any customer coming in to choose a bottle?
Wine has a strict relationship with food, so first of all you have to plan on what you are going to pair the wine with, then it depends on the time of the day and the season
Where are your favorite places to eat and drink in Charleston?
I have to say the Post House in Mt Pleasant, and the Obstinate Daughter in Isle of Palms
Where are your favorite places to eat and drink in Bologna?
Ristorante Biagi in Bologna is considered the best traditional restaurant in the city. For drinks you should go to Re Sole, a place that focuses on champagne and has a fantastic raw bar.