Paul Grieco, director of all things wine at restaurants Hearth and Terroir, is clearly a man of opinions: consider that as of today, for the third annual “summer of Riesling,” the only white wine available by the glass at Terroir (both locations), will be Riesling. He has used his wine list as a soap box for many years, heralding unsung grapes, praising Chateau Musar in Lebanon, and giving away sherry every day from 4 – 6 PM.
Now, on page one of his wine list, Grieco entered a high-profile fray in the NYC dining scene by vividly showing his support for restauranteur Chris Cannon, who abruptly closed his restaurants Alto and Convivio recently. (The closings were part of the fallout from a dispute with Cannon’s former business partners chef Michael White and investor Ahmass Fakahany, who together own Marea, Ai Fiori, and Osteria Morini.) Who needs a blog to rant when you can you can print your views on a wine list?
On a related note, even if the Krug was not properly chilled on a private jet bound for Aspen last week, it must have been a frosty trip since Grieco and Michael White were onboard.
Three hundred people a week are injured in “glassings” in British pubs. The rate is so high that doctors have recommended substituting plastic tumblers for all glasses. In two test cities where the switch has been put in place, the incident rate has declined sharply. (I guess Riedel needs to think about making a plastic pint and plastic, stemless wine cups.)
What would happen if guns were allowed in bars and restaurants? We will find out here, apparently. According to a NYT story from Sunday highlighted a change in four state laws that now allow loaded weapons to be carried into bars and restaurants. Twenty other states, including New York, have legal gray areas and thus could be up for a challenge soon from gun-rights groups.
There is a catch, however that’s possibly more important than a trigger lock: those carrying weapons cannot drink alcohol. That does give a slight twist on the ordering process: will waiters now have to ask if you’re armed before they serve you? Red or white? Packing or not? And what about winery tasting rooms? The Tennessee legislator who sponsored the bill there highlighted the need for security between car and the restaurant. So if a winery visitor wanted to pack heat before tasting some fruit bombs, would he or she have to check the gun at the door? How would this affect the tasting room experience? Should wineries ban guns?
Have your say in the comments or the latest poll!
SIPPED: X-Ray vision for wine lists?
The above image comes from wondertonic.tumblr.com
HoseMaster continues his discussion of Carbon Footprint wines, including “Creeping Deforestation” & “Screw the Ozone” [HoseMaster of Wine]
SIPPED: dug up from the cellar
“Perth Pink….This is not a wine for drinking, this is a wine for laying down and avoiding.” An old Monty Python wine sketch that had fallen through the cracks!
Alcohol has been “too accessible to the people of Ontario,” so the LCBO will respond by shuttering retail stores and limiting the rest to 12-3 on Saturday. [This & That; cbc.ca]
SIPPED: natural wine humor
“So far only insufferable hipsters in New York and San Francisco talk about natural wines but they proselytize so much over the internet that we may pick up another 50 or so drinkers in the next few years.” A new new robotic sommelier video.
SIPPED: glass cleaning tip o’ the day
Don’t use the same sponge to clean wine glasses that you just used to clean the waffle batter bowl.
This week’s big story is the dramatic, emergency-slide resignation of JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater. Following verbal abuse from a passenger, he took to the PA system to let everyone on board know that he’d had enough, popped the inflatable emergency slide, threw down his carry-ons, grabbed a couple of beers from the drinks cart, and then slid down to the tarmac and walked to the employee parking lot at JFK.
Working in a restaurant is also a high-pressure situation (though fortunately, there’s not TSA screening for diners). So, turning this incident to the wine world: What would it take for a sommelier to shout expletives at diners, hit the fire alarm, grab two fave bottles, and run out the back door?
I put the question to Jean-Luc Le Dû, who was in the restaurant business for 20 years, the last ten as chef sommelier at the acclaimed Restaurant Daniel. (He now runs his own wine shop, Le Dû’s Wines, in the West Village.) It turns out that he actually did walk out of a job once! And I also asked him which two bottles he would have grabbed from the famed cellar at Daniel if he had made a dramatic exit.
Have you ever looked at a wine list and wished that you might want to try a half a bottle of one wine and a half a bottle of another wine? At Bar Henry, that dream can become reality.
John Slover, who previously worked at Cru, has assembled a wine list with 116 wines on the “market” list. Order any wine off this list and they will pour off half of it and charge you–gasp!–half the price of the full bottle. The remaining 375ml goes behind the bar and the wine gets written on a big mirror, where it is then in play and available for purchase by other diners, either as a half or by the glass. (The list also has 24 wines offered by-the-glass.) It’s a fun and innovative feature that offers the opportunity to try different wines at reasonable prices. The market list includes mostly French and Italian wines but also has selections from the US, Germany, Austria among other countries. Producers include: Tue-Boeuf, Belliviere, Knoll, Zilliken, Auguste Clape, Marquis d’Angerville, Paolo Bea and Cristom.
Bar Henry’s creativity features in a story that I wrote on the theme in the June 15 issue of the magazine Sommelier Journal.
Unfortunately it’s not on their website, but if you are a subscriber, check out the story on the back page.UPDATE: the column is now online! Check it out at sommelierjournal.com.
Which wine bars or restaurants have you been to that are doing fun and innovative things?
Related: Bar Henry, 90 West Houston Street, (646) 448-4559 (map it)
“Finding a deal on the wine list at Bar Boulud in NYC“
Wine enthusiasts always enjoy getting affordable wines with tasty food at restaurants. Throw in a winemaker and it becomes a real event! Fortunately, there are a few interesting such winemaker dinners coming on the calendar in NYC soon. Of note:
April 19 at Rouge Tomate: Michel Delhommeau of Muscadet and Laetitia Gendrier of Domaine Huards in Cheverny will be among eight Loire winemakers on hand for a four-course dinner. Wine reception starts at 6:30. $95+tax and tip. (646) 237-8977
April 22 at Dressler (Williamsburg): a five-course dinner with Klauss Gasser, winemaker at Cantina Terlano in Alto Adige. Features four wines from 2005. (718) 384-6343
April 22 at Crush Wine & Spirits: not a dinner but a free, “epic” (their word) tasting of Gruner Veltliner from producers including Nikolaihof, Prager, FX Pichler, Brundlmayer and more…(Unlike the others, no producers on hand for this event.) 5:30 – 7:30. Food pairings from Seasonal restaurant. Must RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
And two arranged through Chambers Street Wines:
April 22: the distinctive, oxidized whites and high-acid reds of Jura will be offered in a private room at The Ten Bells in a walk-around, mingling, small plate tasting. More than a half-a-dozen producers will be in attendance. $55. (212) 227-1434
April 23 at General Greene (Fort Greene): a four-course dinner with excellent Loire producers Francois Chidaine (Montlouis and Vouvray) and Mattieu Baudry of Domaine Bernard Baudry (Chinon). Six wines will be served including two Montlouis still wines as well as Baudry’s top wine, La Croix Boisée. $90 (includes tax and tip) (212) 227-1434
UPDATE: Please note that the disruptions in European travel may have altered these events. Please double check with the organizers.
We all want to order wine like a pro at a restaurant. But apparently ordering wine off a wine list is an extremely pressure-filled situation for many people, ranking right up there with fear of public speaking and fear of grizzly bears. So with a new, recurring feature on this site, we aim to help you order wine like with aplomb and find an excellent deal.
Although regular wine markup in restaurants is 300 percent of the wholesale cost, many wine lists have hidden deals. There are any number of reasons why they exist: Perhaps the sommelier has a soft spot for an unheralded grape and slips it on the list with a low markup or maybe there is a closeout item and the restaurant passes on the savings.
Today’s such gem comes from Bar Boulud. To accompany the restaurant’s extensive charcuterie menu, wine director Michael Madrigale runs an innovative program that focuses largely on wines from the Rhone and Burgundy. One of the exciting things he does is feature a different large format bottle, often a rare mature wine, open it and pour it by the glass. (Follow on Twitter to see which wines are being poured.)
But one deal that he doesn’t telegraph is what he calls “the nugget.” On the wine list at any given moment is a wine that Madrigale puts on for the wholesale cost (that is to say, even below retail). He doesn’t highlight the item and it’s often an obscure, wine geek’s wine and his stock can be quickly depleted. Diners have to spot the wine on the list as being an outrageous value, and then order it and accept it. At that point Madrigale lets them know the value they have uncorked. “Usually, they are quite happy about their choice,” he says. Previous such wines have included Chapoutier’s ’04 Cornas “Les Arenes” for $55 and the Chateau Grillet 2004.
So order wine like an insider when next at Bar Boulud. The current nugget is…Eric Texier, 2000 Hermitage rouge for $69.
1900 Broadway (between 63rd & 64th) New York, NY 10023
Tim Harford writes a column in the weekend FT called “Dear Economist: Resolving readers’ dilemmas with the tools of Adam Smith.” This week he takes up the topic of wine thanks to a letter from a student who wants to impress his girlfriend in a restaurant despite being on a budget. Here’s Harford’s advice:
You assume that the price of the wine and its quality can be neatly separated out. This seems reasonable, but is wrong. Price changes the very experience of quality. Neuro-economists have found, for instance, that while placebo painkillers work, they work best if the subject thinks they are expensive. Energy drinks give you less energy if you buy them at a discount. (Yes, really.) And of course, wine tastes better if you believe that it is expensive.
One possibility is to conceal the price of wine from your girlfriend and tell her you’re buying the expensive stuff when in fact you are buying the house red. This is a white lie: many people prefer the taste of cheap wine in blind tastings, and by claiming it is expensive you will quite genuinely improve the way she thinks it tastes.
Perhaps. But buying expensive wine might make the student look profligate. Or like a chump since price is actually an unreliable indicator of a wine’s quality especially as there are so many values in the market today. And, if caught, passing off Prosecco at vintage Champagne prices might deflate more than the bubbles on the table.
In fact, there are other ways for this student to impress rather than price: I say choose a restaurant with a good wine list, order a Zweigelt, an easy-drinking red from Austria that suffers a discount because nobody thinks they can pronounce it, or a lip-smacking, natural cru Beaujolais. After she has tried it and loves it, tell her the wine is a steal. Or go to a nice BYOB and scope out something at a good shop beforehand. You don’t have to be an economist to think that finding a terrific wine value is pretty damn sexy.
What’s your advice?