Cheers May 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 29 of 51 30 • May 2016 pepper notes of the Loimer Lois grüner veltliner trocken ($12.75 a glass) from Kamptal, Austria. A fruity red also works, such as the Ponzi La Tavola pinot noir ($16 a glass) from Oregon's Willamette Valley. "[It is] made to go with a variety of food, and has ample acidity and fresh cherry flavors," Pesquera says. A little on the richer side is Rodney Strong pinot noir ($13 a glass) from California's Russian River Valley. No matter the season, most guests at Fleming's want a nice juicy steak. So in the warmer months, Pesquera suggests a lighter red rather than a big cabernet. "The Cesari Corvina Jema from Veneto in Italy ($90 a bottle) is a wonderful, complex wine with a velvety texture and pure, red fruit flavors that enhance a juicy tender filet beautifully," she notes. New York Strip fans will meet their match in the easygoing Predator Old Vine zinfandel ($10 a glass) from California's Lodi region. PAIRING OF THE GREEN Fresh produce abounds right now, and understanding its textures and flavors and how it plays with wine is key, says Rob Warren, director of winemaking for Chicago-based Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants. "A lot of fresh spring produce is green and has some bitter flavors," he says. "To reduce this bitterness, you should choose a wine with a little sweetness and moderate acidity, such as an off-dry riesling," Warren says. Cooper's Hawk, a modern-casual chain with 22 locations, carries 40 proprietary, customized wines under its own label sourced from all over the world. Its riesling is priced at $7.75 a glass and $26.99 a bottle. Warren points out that spring greens may be dressed with balsamic vinegar, adding acidity to the mix. So slightly sweet, low acid wines will balance things out. "As the weather starts to warm up, there is a feeling of renewal and freshness in the air," notes Warren. "People have a tendency to move away from heavy red wines towards lighter, refreshing fruity wines." The new spring menu at Cooper's highlights seasonal ingredients. As always, each dish has a recommended wine pairing; wines are listed on the menu by their bin numbers. For instance, Ahi Tuna Tacos ($11.99), blackened and seared rare, served with citrus slaw, sriracha cream, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro and wasabi cream are paired with crisp sauvignon blanc ($7.25 a glass, $27.99 a bottle). The wine acts as a palate scrubber for the fish's rich texture and the spice. Classic tomato bruschetta with burrata, basil, arugula and olive oil is a match with pinot gris ($7.50 a glass, $25.99 a bottle). "The sweetness of the tomato and the bitterness of the arugula balance each other and work together to accentuate the [wine's] fruity and floral flavors," Warren says. LIGHT AND LIVELY After all of those root vegetables, heavy sauces and roasting and braising for the past two seasons, the fresh spring menu ingredients and preparation can make chefs—and wine directors—absolutely giddy. "[Spring] is a great time of year to dine in Charleston and to utilize our local farmers in providing the best available ingredients out there," says Peter Pierce, general manager of the 100-seat SNOB (Slightly North of Broad). The eclectic, low Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants specializes in pairings and recommends an off-dry riesling with bitter spring produce. The chain carries 40 proprietary, customized wines under its own label sourced from all over the world.

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