Attending wine auctions and bidding on behalf of clients is all in a day’s work for David Beckwith ’01, founding partner of Grand Cru Wine Consulting, New York.
“I was born to do this,” says Beckwith, whose professional skills involve equal parts refined palate and business acumen. On a recent day, he sorted through 400 or 500 bottles in two Eurocaves in a Central Park West kitchen selecting bottles for a dinner party. He also put aside about two cases of wine, including some 1982 Lafite, to send off to auction.
“Given the price it’s trading for—about $3,000 right now—and the price he paid for it, it’s smarter to sell it than drink it,” Beckwith told wine columnist Jay McInerney, who featured Grand Cru in “The Brains Behind Some of the Finest Cellars” in The Wall Street Journal.
Grand Cru, founded in 2007, is a concierge service for well-heeled wine aficionados. Beckwith and his partners focus on vintages from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Champagne, and Italy.
He says his experience at Lafayette gave him the confidence to pursue this unique career.
“I never hesitated going into a field a little more obscure such as wine,” he says. “During my senior year I would invite friends over to my house on Cattell Street while I would cook dinner and open bottles for everyone. I would then write my own tasting notes and compare them to Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. I was ‘that’ guy.”
Beckwith, who double majored in art and history, had an epiphany during a semester in Florence.
“I took a wine course one evening that was focused on three whites and three reds,” he recalls. “The teacher articulately explained the differences between them, and I remember a light going off as I understood. For the rest of the semester I paid attention to the wines we would have with my Italian family or while out in restaurants. Things snowballed from there.”
Beckwith honed his skills as a sommelier at Babbo, the Manhattan restaurant owned by Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. He also worked for three years at the Zachys wine retailer and auction house, overseeing more than $16 million worth of consignments.