Wine for the Super Bowl: Tampa edition

Last year, supermodel Gisele Bundchen caused a stir by sipping wine during the Super Bowl. Some even thought this act caused the Patriots’ star quarterback Tom Brady, her beau, to crumble, bring the team down with him.

bernsFans of the Steelers and the Cardinals who make it to Tampa for this year’s Super Bowl on February 1 are, given the scant attention paid to wine at stadiums, likely to have few such vinuous distractions. But Tampa does have one wine destination worth flagging: Bern’s Steakhouse.

The restaurant has a legendary wine list with about 600,000 bottles that have been accumulated constantly since the restaurant opened in the 1950s. Some are housed in the 3,000+ square foot wine cellar in the restaurant but the bulk of the collection is stored in two temperature controlled warehouses off premises. Stars of the collection include an 1851 bottle of Gruaud Larose, some Madeiras from the 18th century, and large verticals of Bordeaux.

I’ve never been to the restaurant but I was talking with an NYC wine collector last year and he told me about weekends that he and his wife like to take in Tampa to visit Bern’s. They go with four to eight friends and make reservations for Friday and Saturday night. They have a lengthy meal on Friday, sleep in on Saturday, get manicures or play golf (they said there’s not a lot to do), then go back for a huge, long dinner on Saturday that can last ten hours at the table as they plunder the cellar. Whoa! Who knows if they are keeping this up hedonism in recessionary 2009 but it shows what damage wine lovers could do at the restaurant. A lot more than in the stadium, that’s for sure!

Related: “Eric Renaud Senior Sommelier” []

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6 Responses to “Wine for the Super Bowl: Tampa edition”

  1. My jaw literally dropped at that number: 600,000 bottles for one restaurant. One thing is for certain, I’ve never had a 10-hour dinner, but after being presented with the idea, it sounds like something I have to do.

  2. as a 12-year nyc veteran, a foodie, a csw and just a guy with parents who now live in tampa, i can tell you a few things: if you’ve never been, definitely go to berns! take the free tour of the place to see their on-site cellar, which has some literally unbelievable bottles. but that wine list is only a small fraction of what bern’s actually owns — they have at least two full warehouses with bottles in the millions!

    if you are thinking of it, however, bypass a second run at the steakhouse and go up the street to sideberns (great name), which is wonderful mediterranean-inspired modern fare. the best part? it’s adjacent to bern’s fine wines which, while small, has a fantastic selection. spend a little time talking to kevin pelley, their wine guru, and you’ll feel right at home. (and definitely don’t miss their rare wine room, complete with cases of ch pavie, valandraud, peredrix echezaux (all 2005) and numerous others. it’s the only place i have seen a tokaji eszencia on display.) kevin is the man — tell him michael from d.c. sent you.

    oh, and there’s plenty to do in tampa. tell your pals to head down to ybor city if they’re bored!

  3. I have been to Bern’s twice during my trips to Tampa for Yankees spring training. The first time I think I was so overwhelmed by the unusual decor of the place that I did not fully appreciate the quality of the wine list. The second time I was able to concentrate on the steaks and the wine and really enjoyed it. We took the advice of the waitstaff in choosing the wine. The tour was interesting of the cellar and having a separate room for dessert and coffee was definitely a different experience than you get in New York City.

  4. Bern’s is a treasure. With a large client of mine in Tampa, and my folks less than a mile down the street, I make monthly runs to the “Temple of Terroir”.

    The list is massive, well priced, and filled with gems/bargains.

    They have some of the best, and most down to earth, sommeliers in the biz. To make life easier- Find them, tell them what you want to spend, what you like, and let them choose. These people are great.

  5. […] Tyler over at Dr. Vino recently posted an article about a Tampa restaurant (Bern’s) that might be of interest to those who will be traveling to Tampa to watch the STEELERS trounce the Cardinals in Superbowl XLIII. Bern’s boasts 6,800 selections and more than 500,000 bottles. I don’t even want to see that wine list. […]

  6. I always seem to have a hard time on deciding which nail design to use, sometimes it can take me hours to decide. I usually try changing my nail designs at least twice a month.


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