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 30 of 51 31 May 2016 • country bistro in Charleston, SC, offers 24 wines by the glass and 75 by the bottle. Pierce cites spring pairings such as Gazpacho ($8) with Dopff & Irion Vin d'Alsace pinot blanc ($9 a glass). The slightly sweet finish, great acidity and balance of the otherwise dry white wine matches the freshly chopped cold soup, he says. BBQ Tuna ($30) is a winner next to the 2013 Thevenet "Bussieres les Clos" Burgundy ($12 a glass). "This is more of a medium-bodied style pinot noir that still maintains a nice masculine finish that would cut the acidity from the South Carolina-style barbeque sauce," Pierce says. SNOB's specials change daily, depending on availability and the whim of the kitchen. Among Pierce's go-to, never-fail wines for spring cuisine are the 2014 Montefresco pinot grigio ($7 a glass, $32 a bottle), which is crisp and fresh with exotic fruit and a touch of pear and tangerine. He also likes the 2012 Orin Swift Locations grenache blend ($12 a glass, $55 a bottle) from France, an aromatic and luscious wine with flavors of dark fruit, fig, kirsch and blackberry. Al fresco dining affects guests' palates in the warmer months, too. "Spring encourages outside festivities that often last longer than a traditional meal," explains Robert Rodriguez, general manager for the 142-seat Cured in San Antonio, TX, which has an emphasis on hand-crafted farmhouse fare and cured foods. So lower-alcohol, wallet-friendly wines are popular. The challenge, he says, is "maintaining a selection of full- bodied, higher-priced wines while featuring menus items that are lighter and greener in flavor." Versatile varietals include vinho verde from Portugal, albariño from Spain's Rias Baixas region in Galicia, and sparkling wines. Cured has 40 to 50 wines by the bottle, and about half of that by the glass. ACID TRIPS Wine pairings are generally either that of complementing or contrasting, Rodriguez says. "Often the cooking technique is even more important to consider than the actual ingredients, such as pickling, fermenting or preserving." Cured foie gras with hog tongue, strawberry jam and green strawberries ($16) is a rich yet tart dish. Abbazia di Novacella Kerner ($51 a bottle) from an indigenous red varietal in Alto Adige, Italy, works both by contrasting the acidity of the pickled green strawberries, and by complementing the sweet notes in the foie gras and the red berries. Wagyu beef tartare with mezcal, chipotle, egg emulsion and toasted brioche ($14) works with Kuhlman Cellars viognier ($64 a bottle) from Stonewall, TX. "Elderflower, banana and pineapple notes match the aromatic garnish of spring flowers on this dish," explains Rodriguez. "Bright acid cleanses the palate of chipotle spice and egg emulsion richness." Italian wines are legendary for their ability to seamlessly work with—rather than overshadow—cuisine, and that goes for spring fare. David Kurka, general manager/beverage director for the 60-seat Puglia cuisine-focused restaurant Masseria in Washington, D.C., turns to crisp whites from northern Italy's Alto Adige region for the chef 's a la carte and Maeve Pesquera, wine director of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, finds that "spring flavors are generally less bold and require a wine that has subtlety, some acidity and complexity." Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar offers 100 wines by the glass or bottle.

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