Brother-and-Sister Oenophiles Start a Wine Show in Princeton

'Wine-ing Away with Corie & Ray' airs every other week on Princeton TV.

Ray and Corie on the set at Princeton TV. Photo courtesy of Lisa Jakub

There’s a brother-sister wine show airing on Princeton TV public access that wine lovers (especially New Jersey wine lovers) should tune into. Granted, in a TV age where cooking contests get stadium-style, laser-lit “Iron Chef” treatment, the relaxed set-up of Wine-ing Away with Corie & Ray is as modest as they come. But as brother-sister wine duo, Corie and Ray Mogenis are doing a lot for advancing both wine savvy and state pride from their set at Princeton TV.

New Jersey natives—their family grew up in Linden and are now gently scattered around the state—both Ray and Corie found a passion for wine as adults: now wine manager at NJ Wine Seller in Cranford, Ray went from the restaurant industry to the retail side of things after a not-so-gentle shove from Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Philly restaurant where he worked. And while Corie doesn’t work in wine, she found a passion for it partly through her brother and, later, her law firm job (see below), and acts as a sort of stand-in for the curious/thirsty audience. Airing since last June, the show has already attracted Princeton-area talent (winemakers, restaurant general managers, wine importers, etc.). We caught up with the Mogenis siblings to ask how they got into hosting a show and what they’d like to do with their platform in the coming year.

Table Hopping: You’re a brother-sister team that hosts a wine show together. Did you grow up in a wine-loving house?
Ray Mogenis: Not at all!

TH: Then how did each of you make your way into the wine world?
RM: I got started [working] in the restaurant industry and I moved into [wine] retail. It’s just something I have a great passion for.
Corie Mogenis: It wasn’t until I started working with a law firm that I got into wine. Everyone drank wine. I thought “Gee, I better jump into this headfirst!” And I did, taking wine classes, educating myself. I even made wine at local winemaking schools.

TH: Have you guys influenced each other’s tastes over the years? What are your tastes?
RM: Corie’s more into sparkling wine.
CM: And I love red. Old vine zinfandel is my all-time favorite.
RM: Italian wines won me over. That’s when I fell in love with wine. I get in my little moods; for two weeks I’ll only drink whites. I’ll drink Amarone for a week. As for influencing tastes, on one of our earliest shows, we did “Alternative Whites for the Summer.” I brought a bunch of stuff Corie had never had—Muscadet, viognier, picpoul. Corie was really impressed. I got a nice little jolt of satisfaction out of that!

Sister and brother enjoying wine. Photo courtesy of Olivia Mogenis

TH: How did you transition from brother-sister wine aficionados to a show on public access?
RM: Corie’s a medical malpractice paralegal. Her and a nurse colleague of hers wrote Medical Tips: Inside Things You Need to Know. That turned into a public access show which they had for a decade. When it ended, I half-jokingly said “Well now we can always do that wine show you wanted to do!” And Corie just took it and ran with it. By June 2019, suddenly we had a wine show!

TH: Not to spark sibling rivalry, but who brings what to the show?
RM: I’m the one that does this professionally, so I’ve got a little more in the way of fine-tuned facts about different wines and varietals than Corie has. She’s the passionate wine lover—she represents the audience. I may bring a tutorial edge to it and Corie asks questions, like where can I get that, how much does it cost. We have a nice yin and yang that way.

TH: People hear “public access” and tend to think small potatoes. But you guys have had some big players in the New Jersey wine world on your show—John Cifelli, GM of Unionville Vineyards; George Parkinson, sommelier at the Peacock Inn; Ben Rosenthal, wine director and GM at Eno Terra. How hard is it to book your guests?
CM: Right now, our guests are completely booked until June 2020. Ray of course has people in the industry he knows…We’ve just booked the president of the American Wine Society. He’s the chapter president for the entire U.S., but he’s based out of the Princeton chapter. He’s coming on to talk about the benefit of joining societies and different wine groups.
RM: We had the operating manager of Salt Creek Grille. He’s amazing—a wine judge, certified Italian wine ambassador. He brought us some of the most amazing Italian wines we had ever had, occasionally something we’d never even seen.
CM: In general, we reach out to a lot of restaurants, wine shops, liquor stores. They think it’s a great idea and they’re helping support what we do, which is educate community, bring them together, entertain if we can, and share a passion for wine.

TH: What have you learned from the show, something that maybe surprised you as a consumer?
RM: Meeting some of the New Jersey wineries we’ve had, in particular Hopewell Valley Vineyards, I didn’t realize we grow certain varietals in New Jersey. Like Vidal Blanc, and Hopewell has that… And the different kinds of Chardonnay you can get around here. Unionville brought some. You can get a variety, from Burgundy to traditional California styles, at all different price ranges.
CM: For me, I’m getting to try wines that I’ve never even heard of before. For instance, South African wines. I’ve tried a ton that I don’t think I’ve had prior to doing the show. That led me to go home and research and read more. Now I’m amazed at South African wines. I think they’re really under-promoted.

TH: What can we expect ahead?
CM: We definitely want to get into local New Jersey wineries. We want to tell people what’s just around the corner. But we’re also touching on what you can get in restaurants and [wine] shops. And what you can pair! We also want to get into wine apps as well as tools and accessories. We’ll have a whole show on that, decanters, filters, openers, and aerators—all that stuff.
RM: We’re also using restaurant industry connections. I have a friend, a chef named Genevieve Monet, she’ll come on and bring appetizers and we’ll pair wines with what she brought. We’ll probably get a little more into the cuisine end of it this year.

TH: What are some of the New Jersey wineries you have featured, or will feature?
CM: Old York Cellars, Hopewell, Unionville. Cream Ridge Winery is actually coming next week. We’ll be having on Fox Hollow Vineyards from Holmdel, too.

TH: Considering you’re getting to know all these vineyards, any thoughts on the state of New Jersey wine?
RM: I think it’s very much on the rise. I would say in the next 5 to 10 years, there will be a lot more great wine from New Jersey.

Wine-ing Away with Corie & Ray airs on Princeton TV, Sundays at 6:30pm and Tuesday mornings at 10am. A new episode airs every other week. The show can also be see on Comcast Ch. 30 and Verizon Fios Ch. 45 as well as Piscataway TV and Long Branch TV. You can stream it via Roku, FireTV, and Apple TV. The show airs in Princeton as well as Ewing, Hopewell, Hopewell Boro, Lawrence Township, Trenton, West Windsor, South Brunswick, Cranbury, Plainsboro, Franklin Township, Hillsborough, Montgomery and Rocky Hill. The most recent episode available online is from October 2019, with Dan Notarmuzi, manager of the Rocky Hill Inn. You can also catch random wine tips and even wine tastings like this one at Iron Plough Vineyards in Columbus, via the Wine-ing Away Facebook page.

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