Coconut Grove

Wine aficionado dies in Miami car crash

Barry Alberts
Barry Alberts
Miami Herald File

Barry Alberts, a wine aficionado who hosted tastings across South Florida and who has conducted pairings for some of the top chefs in the country, died in a car accident last week.

Alberts, 60, crashed his silver Acura Friday night on Interstate 95 near the South Miami Avenue exit. He was on the way to his Coconut Grove home after an event in Boca Raton. No other cars were involved.

Alberts, a beloved figure who was the “wine guy” at a boutique grocery store called Scotty’s more than two decades ago, owned the consulting and events firm Wine to Berries Inc. His personal wine glass was a red plastic cup — fitted over a clear, carved stem.

In 2009, Alberts spent a week aboard a Holland America ship cruising the Caribbean while teaching the fine craft of wine and food pairings.

“He was always excited about some new winery, vintage and restaurant,” said Janet Carabelli, who with her husband, Jorge, hosted Albert and some friends at what turned out to be a wine-fueled 12-hour brunch a few years back.

“One year he was particularly enamored of Swanson’s Alexis wine, so when he learned he had a daughter on the way, he named her after the wine.”

As news of Albert’s death spread over the weekend, his Facebook page exploded with memorial messages.

Jacqueline Coleman wrote about driving home from the Redland with Alberts in his car two weeks ago, and how they became so enthralled with the music blasting from the car’s stereo that they missed the exit.

“He gave me experiences and confidence in an industry where young women are rare. . . He is my mentor, and I will forever be grateful for having a place in his life — such a short time,” wrote Coleman.

Chip Cassidy, who directs the wine program at Florida International University, spoke fondly of Alberts, and recalled working with him about a decade ago when Cassidy was a buyer at Crown Liquors. Cassidy said he had a tough time teaching a class Monday morning because his good friend was on his mind.

“He was important to [wine] consumers because every Friday night — I don’t know how he did it — but he’d have wine tastings” at different places, usually in Coconut Grove. “He was an individual who just stood out.”

Family members from across the country are on the way to Miami for Albert’s funeral.

Chad, Albert’s son who has lived in Portland, Ore., since he was 8, remembers his dad performing plays for him and his sister, Lexi, using stuffed animals.

Dinners were always an event, Chad said.

“He always took pride in preparing. Even when I was a kid he’d go off and create stuff,” Chad said. “He was a very kind person who just wanted us to be happy. I just want him to be remembered as the person he was.”

Alberts is survived by sister Cheri Alberts Snelton of Illinois and brother Michael Alberts. He also leaves a daughter, Lexi, son Chad, and his father and stepmother Marvin and Kathleen Alberts. Services will be held 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Women’s Club of Coconut Grove, 2985 S. Bayshore Dr.

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