King Solomon was known for his wisdom. And when he ordered a baby cut in half, he made a woman cry.
John Slover is the Solomonic sommelier, though his splitting things in two is more likely to make people happy. When at Bar Henry, he introduced a bottle-splitting program, wherein diners could order 375ml of a regular bottle for only half the full-bottle price (No upcharge! The remaining 375ml is then available to other diners.). This encourages diners to experiment, by, as an example, having a half a bottle of white with appetizers and a half a bottle of red with the main course.
He’s continuing the wisdom of this strategy at Ciano, where he is the wine director at the restaurant that opened last year with Shea Gallante in the kitchen. Slover said wine sales have been strong, adding that the bottle-splitting program “has made money, certainly not lost any.” Two diners sometimes buy a full bottle and then order another half that they wouldn’t have normally ordered to try something new.
Slover divided the wine list into a “market” list where the splitting is allowed and a “reserve” list where it it is not. Unless he can broker a share on one of the pricey bottles. And he has done so, for example, selling a DRC Echézeaux 1985 for $1,200 per half to two tables. One evening, knowing a Rhone fan dining in the restaurant, he proposed a half of 1995 Henri Bonneau, reserve des Célestins, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The diner said, “Bring it on.” Then Slover proposed it to another diner who might be interested and he said “absolutely.” They enjoyed it so much they then went halvsies on a 1985 Rayas.
Let’s just hope Slover keeps his saber sheathed while doing his trademark bottle splitting. That would make us all weep.
Ciano, 45 E. 22nd Street, 212-982-8422
Eric Asimov’s column in the Times today highlights ten restaurants with strong selections of wines under $50. What are notable restaurants you would add to the list?
Wine under $50 certainly has obvious appeal. But it also has pitfalls, notably dull selections available at stores or supermarkets for $10 might appear for $40 on a list. That’s why there’s a paradoxical diner skepticism: on the one hand, we love a deal but on the other hand, we are apparently incredulous that lower-priced wine could actually be good. Pascaline Lepeltier of Rouge Tomate flagged this for us earlier, and she tweeted an elaboration yesterday about the place of wines under $50 and diner psychology:
i would say it is mainly the area where people may not expect to find good AND cheap wines; so you have to convince them
So which places can you cast aside your possible skepticism and order with confidence from the under $50 selections?
Any restaurant that (a) has a credo; (b) has a credo in Latin; and (c) has a credo that relates to health is on a mission. Such is the case at Rouge Tomate, a Michelin one-star, where the credo is Sanitas Per Escam (Health Through Food). But this is no grungy spot with Birkenstock-clad waiters; rather, it is a gorgeous 15,000-sq ft space around the corner from Barneys. So, which wine do you pair with nutritious gastronomy that favors local and rejoices in natural?
In the three years since the restaurant opened on the Upper East Side, that question has been the domain of Pascaline Lepeltier. Read more…
The London riots are simultaneously shocking and horrifying, so much so that the prime minister even came back from his Tuscan vacation to appear to address the issue.
The rioters moved on the Michelin two-star restaurant, The Ledbury, in Notting Hill yesterday. Blogger Louise Yang was there and describes the scene as looters wearing hoodies and masks smashed a plate glass window in the dining room, burst in, and stole her wedding and engagement rings right off her finger.
The kitchen staff scared off the looters, she writes, by brandishing rolling pins and fry baskets. The staff then tried to soothe nerves by offering everyone champagne and whisky. Stiff upper lip! When word spread that the looters were circling back to the restaurant, the staff told diners to go to the wine cellar and lock themselves in.
For stealing her rings, Yang wished the looters “a case of flaming diarrhea for the rest of your life.”
Best wishes to the restaurant staff and diners as they try to put things back together. And, of course, to the country at this time of societal fracture. (ht: eater)
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.