- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2007

Twenty years ago, Carlos Nalda‘s wine collection consisted of a couple random bottles picked up “wherever.”

Today, his personal wine collection includes about 2,500 bottles, and his professional collection is an entire store.

Mr. Nalda this month purchased Bell Wine & Spirits, 1821 M St. NW, which was founded in 1933. The sale still has to be approved by the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration.

Bob and Fred Luskin sold the business, which has been in their family since 1955. They plan to remain involved in Bell”s wine tastings. Khalid Mohamed, who has managed the shop since 1974, will stay at the store.

Mr. Nalda, 41, began collecting wines shortly after he got married in 1994. He calls himself a “sentimental collector,” buying wines from the years of significant events such as his marriage and children’s births.

The wines age in his climate-controlled basement wine room. He pulls out a couple of bottles per year to celebrate anniversaries and other events.

The collection soon turned into something more.

“Doing that, you learn a lot — you explore different regions, explore your own taste,” he said.

As his interest in wine grew, so did his hope to one day buy a wine store. One day, he walked into Bell and talked to the owners about whether they would like to sell. A few months later, he was signing papers.

Mr. Nalda said he plans to continue the Luskins’ practice of tasting every wine they can to determine which ones they want to sell in the store. He plans to broaden the selection of European wines, particularly those from Italy and the Rhone region of southern France.

He also plans to expand Bell’s wine tastings — traditionally only held on Saturdays — to include weeknight events.

Mr. Nalda plans to juggle his legal career — he’s a partner at firm Mintz, Levin in the District — with Bell, which also sells beer and spirits.

Just don’t ask him to pick a favorite wine.

“There are so many. I don’t think I can answer that because it’s hard to pin it down,” he said. “The fun part is trying to find as many memorable bottles and experiences as you’re able.”

In other news …

c Westin Hotels & Resorts announced more details about its new Westin Alexandria hotel at 400 Courthouse Square in Old Town.

The hotel will have 319 rooms, including 12 suites, as well as a business center, fitness center, indoor pool, wireless Internet and valet parking. And, at 7,901 square feet, the hotel will have the largest ballroom in Old Town Alexandria.

The Westin is scheduled to open in November.

c Westfield Annapolis announced 19 new stores that will open as part of its $100 million expansion. The biggest or newest names include Noodles & Co. restaurant, Stoney River Legendary Steaks, Teavana tea store, Martin + Osa clothing store, Janie and Jack children”s clothing store and Garage women’s clothing store.

The expanded shopping center is scheduled to open Nov. 1.

c Bachrach, a European-style men’s clothing store, is slated to open Oct. 5 at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. It will be the company’s third Washington-area store.

c Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Send news to Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com.

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