Cheers - March/April 2016

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 43 of 59 44 • March/April 2016 of 360 Bistro in Nashville. The fi ne-dining restaurant stocks a dozen ports, ranging from $10 for a glass of 10-year tawny to $30 for a 30-year-old, as well as some vintage ports dating back to 1970 for about $375 a bottle. The bistro typically pairs ports with its cheese selections, Allen says. As for sherry, 360 Bistro sells a good deal of entry-level Tio Pepe, but not much of the more interesting styles. "People are more familiar with port than with sherry, at least in our market," Allen notes. "Ports are more accessible than sherries. They are sweet and easy to like, while sherry is more complex and more complicated," says Arthur Lampros, owner of the WineStyles Tasting Station in Montclair, VA. WineStyles, a franchised hybrid wine shop/restaurant, offers a bistro-style menu with by-the-glass selections as well as off-premise bottle sales. Lampros also owns Giorgio's Restaurant next door. WineStyles always offers two ports by the glass for $8 to $12, and an example or two of each of the port styles by the bottle. Bottles start at $10 for a simple ruby and run up to $150 for a few of the higher-end colheitas and vintages. Giorgio's offers one port by the glass. "We sell more of the lower-end ports off-premise, but more of the higher end on-premise," says Lampros. And if guests don't fi nish the bottle, they can take it home. "That's a good selling point," he adds. Customers seem to have a sweet tooth, because WineStyles sells more of the honeyed PX styles than dry fi nos. But Lampros thinks that might be a factor of his suburban location. He sees urban audiences learning to like drier fi nos and amontillados. "The hipsters are discovering sherry." SHERRY SCHOOL "Sherry is a hidden gem; there's so much to explore, and all of it is excellent," says Stephen McGinnis, wine director for Estrellon restaurant and tapas bar in Madison WI. Part of the four-unit Deja Food Restaurant Group, Estrellon currently carries 16 different sherries. There are six by-the- glass selections, but McGinnis will open just about any bottle if there is interest; any leftover wine is used for staff education. Most sherry sales are by the glass, because there is less trial risk for the guest; prices range from $6 to $18 a glass. The bottles top out at $150 for a half bottle of El Maestro Sierra Amontillado "1830." Estrellon also offers a fl ight of ports. Sister restaurant L'Etoile has a number of sherries and ports, which pair well with the seven-course tasting menu. "We hang our fl ag on sherry at Mockingbird Hill," says Derek Brown, owner of the self-proclaimed "sherry and ham bar" in Washington, D.C. The wide selection of over 60 sherries by the glass as well as special, small-production bottles attracts afi cionados and the curious. Various fl ights offer newbies an opportunity to taste through the wine's range of styles. Prices range from $7 to $30 a glass. Brown makes the point that sherry is a vinous bargain: Top quality bottles are inexpensive and even old and rare sherries are readily available and relatively cheap. TWO PAIR WINS Both port and sherry have affi nities for food, with many good and surprising matches. "A glass of port is a great pairing to our chocolate fondue, and a great way to fi nish off a dinner," says Paul Brown, beverage manager of The Melting Pot. The Tampa, FL-based fondue concept counts over 120 units; more than half offer fortifi ed wines on their dessert menus. "We are a celebratory kind of concept, and port is a celebratory wine," adds Brown. Most port sales are by the glass, in the $12 to $15 range. "Our operators understand the importance of that add-on sale at the end of the evening and how port can enhance the guest experience," he says. "Sherry is the most pairable with food of all wines," says Brown at Mockingbird Hill. "You can serve it as aperitif, with dinner and after. There are few wines you can drink from the beginning to the end of the meal yet match with every dish." At Vera, Mendez also sings the praises of the sherry match. She offers her guests this schematic: "Fino and manzanilla are your Champagne or aperitif; amontillado fi ts where you would " Ports are more accessible than sherries. They are sweet and easy to like, while sherry is more complex and more complicated." — Arthur Lampros, owner of the WineStyles Tasting Station in Montclair, VA. j WineStyles Tasting Station in Montclair, VA, a franchised hybrid wine shop/restaurant, has held in-store seminars on Madeira, port and sherry.

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