Since we last admired [wine/life/each other] enthusiasts Michel Buthion and Stan Stack in a Beaujolais Nouveau-induced embrace on the cover of Nichols Hills News magazine – a predecessor to Slice – over a decade ago, Oklahoma City’s favorite high-spirited bons vivants have popped a few (thousand) more corks.
Who better to call back to the fore in celebration of this month’s local wine and beer features (as if they needed any excuse to celebrate) than Buthion, a restaurateur who, with frère Alain, owns La Baguette Bistro and Bellini’s Ristorante and Grill, and Stack, wine steward and proprietor of Beau’s Wine Bin and Spirit Shoppe?
Greater aficionados of the vine have never existed, so we’ve turned the spotlight on the jovial gents while we steal a few sips in the background.
It’s worth mentioning that your “kissing cover” caused a stir a decade ago, and not because of the vintage. It’s one of our more memorable covers.
Stack: I just remember that Paul Seikel’s six-year-old son asked him if I was gay because Michel was kissing me.
But he’s Freeeeeeeeench.
Stack: Yeah, well, Seikel went off on his kid, asking him, “How do YOU know what that word means?!” He goes on about how the kid was only six, blah, blah, blah. Finally I said, “Wait, did you ever tell your kid I’m not gay?
How long have you two known each other?
Buthion: Since 1982.
Your respective professions complement one another. What’s the best part of your job?
Buthion: Overseeing the wine selections. Tasting the wine. Tasting more wine. Just running the business is what I enjoy. And you know, we also bought Bellini’s last November.
Stack: The best part is probably working for myself. I also manage some wine portfolios for clients and I really enjoy the travel that comes with doing that.
What are you currently obsessed with?
Buthion: Nothing we can publish… so just put, “discovering all the wine that’s out there.” I take a group to Europe every September for a wine tasting tour. Also, we’re now living on an acreage in the city – it’s wonderful. I even have a few chickens!
Stack: I’ve been working out to get ready to take my son, who is 151/2, to Boy Scout camp. I’m just trying to maintain my health. I want to finish well.
I like to ask people about any guilty pleasures they might have, but you know, I have a maximum word count for this article.
Stack: My guilty pleasure is food. That’s why I’m working out. Wine, obviously. Beef – there’s another one.
Buthion: Same here.
Is there anything either of you won’t eat?
Buthion: No. Some foods I like less than others, but there’s nothing I won’t eat.
Stack: I’m allergic to lamb.
We’re talking about wine and beer this month. Give me your three favorite wines.
Buthion: The wine I like the most is whichever one I’m holding in my hand.
Stack: A great Pinot Noir is my favorite thing, followed by a great Cali Cab. I like a Zin. And if someone else is buying, I love a French Bordeaux. Buthion: I love a high-end Riesling Pinot Blanc from Alsace. Burgundy, Bourgogne, from the north side of the Rhône.
How many of those come in a box?
Stack: Hey, you’d be surprised. More and more really good wines are being boxed these days.
By the second box, no one cares anyway, do they? Do you have some beer preferences?
Stack: Beer produced in Oklahoma is fabulous. I’ve expanded my beer racks six times in the past three years.
Buthion: I love a Guinness beer, especially after I’ve been drinking wine all evening.
I can never keep it straight – it’s “beer before liquor, never sicker,” but what do you say with wine? “Beer before wine, everything’s fine?”
Buthion: It’s fine with me.
Besides holding their liquor, what should people learn to do?
Stack: People need to learn to chill. If they have to wait five minutes – and I say this because I’m guilty of it, too – they just come undone. Relaaaaaaax.
Buthion: Don’t wait for a disaster to be nice to one another.
What’s still on your bucket lists?
Stack: To see the Masters Tournament. And to go to the Bordeaux region. I’m hoping to go with Michel one day.
Buthion: Well, just come on. I have more countries I’d like to visit. I’d like to eat sushi off the coast of Japan.
Sushi in one hand, wine in the other?
Buthion: Bien sûr.