Modest Wine may sell humble wine, but the carefully curated store has much to brag about. For starters, the shop is co-owned and co-founded by two high-caliber experts in the industry, Kyle Ridington and his partner. Ridington is an advanced sommelier with 15 years of experience who has worked for some of the best restaurants in the world, including the legendary Michelin-starred Jean-Georges and Daniel Boulud in New York. He was also named Best Dressed Sommelier by GQ magazine in 2015 and by Departures magazine in 2017. His partner works for a French luxury brand that sells high-end wine and spirits.
These partners, who are also a couple, bring industry expertise, style and 5-star service to modest Central Florida, offering customers high quality wines from small growers and winemakers at reasonable prices. “I like to find off the beaten path producers and smaller growers, especially ones that care about the environment,” says Ridington. “My experience in New York, where there is such an excess of money and diverse clientele, allowed me to taste the best and most expensive wines in the world. I can take that knowledge and experience and apply it to the smaller, lesser-known brands to find the best wine that isn’t from a big label.”
Many of the most popular and well-known wine labels are full of added sugar, coloring, chemicals and other additives used to control the flavor, color and texture. Ridington eschews these big mass producers. He loves to educate his clients on what they are drinking, how it is made, and explain texture, notes and color among other elements. “I want to apply the hospitality you get in a high-end restaurant to my customers here,” says Ridington. The partners' true wine passion lies in the region of Champagne, France. They champion a small sector of champagne coined 'grower champagne.' These types of champagnes are family-owned, high quality and produced in extremely small quantities. Modest has the largest section of grower champagne in Florida with upwards of 60 references.
Ridington gives credit to his partner for really formulating and nurturing the concept of Modest Wine. The couple began to pursue the idea of opening their own store during the pandemic when New York’s restaurants were temporarily shuttered. Modest Wine opened in October of 2021, and Ridington says the business is steadily growing. The bright contemporary space features an uber-cool lounge in the front picture window, perfect for sipping and selfie-ing, refrigerators of bubbly (Ridington’s specialty), the cutest shop puppy named Enzo, and plenty of shelves of wine all adorned with witty hand-written descriptive tags. One example: “Get yourself a truffle pig” describes a varietal that would pair well with any dish infused with any truffle oil.
Daily complimentary, walk-in tastings are a staple, and Ridington offers a monthly wine club. For $50, you receive two bottles per month, a red and a white, carefully chosen to represent a good story and a good value, plus you get to participate in exclusive monthly tastings. Ridington loves doing blind tastings because he says it gives people the liberty to share opinions and descriptions about what they are tasting. After one simple blind tasting, he can determine exactly what a customer will like from his shelves.
The store is located at 544 W. Fairbanks Ave.