Cheers-Nov-Dec 2016

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Page 26 of 63 27 November/December 2016 • With the current uptick in shopping local and supporting local farms, dairies and gardens, it makes sense to offer great regional wines, says director of food and beverage Jono Moratis. "It opens the door to many possibilities," he notes. "Having a great meal with a fantastic wine from the area may prompt a guest to visit the local farms and wineries, as they are accessible and usually within a few hours' drive." Moratis selects regional wines that—fi rst and foremost—prompt a sense of surprise. He also seeks quality, consistency, pricing, availability and any opportunities for cross- promotion with the winery in the form of tastings or dinners. The 136-seat steakhouse offers nine wines from New York and New Jersey. One is the 2012 Unionville Vineyards Big O Red Montage ($75 a bottle) from New Jersey, with leather, blackberry jam, vanilla bean and mango notes. Soft and creamy yet tannic and well structured and balanced, Moratis calls it "a little bit of heaven" with a charred strip steak or ribeye. The 2015 Hermann J. Weimer dry riesling ($36 a bottle) from New York comes from one of the country's best riesling producers. Vibrant and aromatic with signature minerality, great acidity and a lingering fi nish, the wine pairs nicely with a variety of dishes. "Malbec is a rising star on Long Island, with early ripening times, intense color and dark, sultry fruit," Moratis says. He is partial to the 2014 Bedell Cellars malbec ($65 a bottle), made from sustainably farmed, estate-grown fruit and indigenous yeasts. It's always nice to support the local wine industry, but Moratis admits that price point is a consideration and reference. "Is the $50 or $70 local wine equal or better than [that] from California that they already love to drink?" he asks. "It is up to us to educate and ensure that we exceed expectations in our recommendations." "Texas wines have come a long way over the last 10 years," says sommelier Anthony Martinez. "Over the years, Texas has found that the traditional grape varieties are not what perform best," he adds. When adding local wines to the 196-seat Old Hickory Steakhouse or the 41-seat Wine Bar, Martinez looks for reputation, quality and recognition. "They must be true to varietal and be balanced." He likes the McPherson viognier ($40 a bottle) for its stone-fruit notes and light acidity, and pairs it with an assorted cheese course. On the red side, tempranillo is king in Texas. The traditionally Spanish rioja varietal can withstand the heat in the state's wine regions, from the Texas Hill Country to the North-Central Region. And it's often blended with cabernet sauvignon, another hearty, thick-skinned red grape. "The Inwood Estates Tempranillo Cabernet Blend ($78 a bottle) has medium- plus body with dark berry fruit character, and a light autumn forest fl oor earthiness," Martinez says. "It pairs seamlessly with our Kansas City strip and roasted mushrooms." The 1,511-room resort in Grapevine (near Fort Worth) sees its fair share of guests from around the world, who are looking to experience not only American wine, but also local options, he says. "Some of them are curious about what Texas has to offer and enjoy a top wine from the state," he notes. The Enomatic Wine Tasting System in the Wine Bar enables guests to sample wines that they may not be familiar with. But Martinez is cautious to strike a good balance between providing the chance for experimentation and giving the guests the wines they want. "It is important to recognize the strengths of your state; however, you must also manage the offerings according to customer demand." Old Hickory Steakhouse/Wine Bar at the Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine, TX Featured Wine Region: Texas Number of Wines on the Menu: 38 by the glass, 375 to 400 by the bottle at Old Hickory; 110 by the glass or bottle at the Wine Bar Number of Regional Wines on the Menu: 6 at Old Hickory; 8 at the Wine Bar The 196-seat Old Hickory Steakhouse Wine Bar at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, TX, offers six wines from Texas; the resort's Wine Bar features eight wines from the home state. Strip House at the Westminster Hotel, Livingston, NJ Featured Wine Region: New Jersey/New York Number of Wines on the Menu: 100 Number of Regional Wines on the Menu: 9

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