Cheers - September, 2015

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 42 of 51 43 September 2015 • and dark cherries," Davis says. "It is great with heavier meats, cassoulet and rustic game and fowl." But there are differences in aromas, fl avors and overall style between red Rhône wines and their California counterparts. Servers should do a little sleuthing to see just what the guest is craving. For example, Bernard says, "Are they looking for a syrah that is more fruit-forward with dark fruits (as in California) or are they looking for a wine that is less fruit-forward and has more spice (as in the Rhône Valley)?" A bottle that splits the difference is the 2011 Cass Estate Grenache from Paso Robles ($58 a bottle), which is delicate and medium-bodied, with fl avors of bright strawberry as well as pink peppercorns and baking spices all joined by moderate tannins. She recommends it with anything from charred octopus and seared rare ahi tuna to venison and charcuterie. A French varietal from Burgundy, the 2013 Rancho Real Vineyard gamay noir from Field Recordings, is one of Rogers' favorites right now. "It's partially carbonically macerated, which brings out the varietal's bold fruit, but unlike a typical Beaujolais, it has an elegant, mineral fi nish." Rogers pairs it with Faroe Island salmon; it mingles nicely with the dish's accompanying tart yuzu and rich miso. Valdiguié, a French varietal originally from the Languedoc- Roussillon region, produces dark-colored wines that are light to medium body. Husk has offered the 2013 Broc Cellars Valdiguié from Solano County, CA, for $12 a glass. Davis calls the 2013 J. Lohr "Wildfl ower," a valdiguié-based wine from Arroyo Seco in Monterey, CA, ($26 a bottle) both a steal and an over-performer. "Bursting with vibrant cherry, raspberry and pomegranate, this wine is perfect with meat components, charcuterie and chicken or fi sh dishes with dark sauces," he says. OLD WORLD MEETS NEW WORLD As for other European varietals grown in the U.S., Wedge says the 2012 cabernet franc reserve from Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia ($69 a bottle) straddles the gap between Old World elegance and restraint and New World fruit. "It will never be confused for Right Bank Bordeaux or Napa Valley cabernet franc," he notes, "but it does combine all of these signatures in amounts that will please almost any drinker." American wines made from Italian varietals are slowly taking root, Bernard says, with wineries like the aforementioned Barboursville Vineyards making vermentino, nebbiolo and barbera. Rogers has been known to pour the versatile 2012 sangiovese from Caparone Winery in Paso Robles ($10 a glass). "It's very light, nicely acidic and terroir-driven," he says. "It won't overpower a light salad, but it can easily carry through to a main course of a gamey lamb burger with olive and feta." Wedge agrees that Italian varietals are starting to make more noise, and has carried Giornata Sangiovese and Clendenen Nebbiolo in the past. "They are extremely high quality and delicious wines." Keck at Camerata is excited about what the domestic wine producers are making. "They're being adventurous and taking risks with what they're planting," and highlighting new and interesting varietals, he says. ENCOURAGING GUESTS TO TRY Staff education and buy-in are key in nudging guests to try wines they normally wouldn't order, says Davis. "Train your staff and let them taste the wines on a regular basis," he advises. To move guests out of their comfort zones, "you must have confi dence and enthusiasm about the wines." Servers typically spend the most time with guests, building rapport and fostering regulars, Bernard says, so training them should be a major focus. "We have regular wine tastings with our service staff as well as mandatory wine classes taught by our sommelier, so they are comfortable recommending wines outside of the 'varietal norm.'" Vinifera also discounts wines on Sundays; those costing $99 and under are half price, while those priced $100 and up receive a 20% discount. The restaurant's wine-of-the-month program highlights a white and a red varietal at a deeply discounted rate to encourage exploration into lesser-known varietals. The Promontory lists wines by region and producer fi rst, and then by varietal, hoping to convey the importance of terroir and vinifi cation over strictly varietal. Rogers opens bottles and has staff talk about pairings every day—their excitement gets translated in turn to the guests. "We talk a lot about how to ask the right questions of diners to fi nd out what they really want in a wine."—Additional reporting by Kyle Swartz. Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer and wine educator in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics. Chicago restaurant The Promontory lists wines by region and producer fi rst, and then by varietal, to convey the importance of terroir and vinifi cation over strictly varietal. IN THE RED

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