Food and wine are natural companions, so I’m polling some of New York’s most illustrious chefs to find out what kind of wine they are drinking off and on the job. After establishing they actually drink wine (a surprising number prefer beer!), I’m asking a few questions to find out who’s got a penchant for Piedmont, which chefs dislike oaky Chardonnay and why there is no right or wrong way to enjoy wine.
In the first installation of this series, I catch up with Wolfgang Ban, chef and owner of Seasonal Restaurant & Weinbar, Edi & the Wolf and The Third Man.
Village Voice: Do you drink wine at home?
Wolfgang Ban: Absolutely!
What types of wine do you like to drink? Any grape or style preferences?
I definitely have my favorites. I love German Riesling because of its high acidity, and it’s just a refreshing wine. Gruner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch from Austria are two of the most important Austrian wines, and I love them because they’re great wines, and they remind me of home. Red Burgundies are also some of my favorites outside of Germany and Austria as they’re just beautifully balanced wines.
Are there specific bottles you love or drink on repeat?
Grüner Veltliner from Wachau, a small region west of Vienna. I’ve also been drinking a lot of Reisling from Rhinehessen as I find the acidity and minerality to be really stunning. They’re just beautiful and complex wines that go very well with a lot of our Austrian dishes like this new white asparagus salad with porcini mushrooms. It’s the perfect spring dish and pairing!
Do your preferences carry through to your wine lists?
You can definitely see my preferences on the wine list. At both Seasonal and Edi & the Wolf, we have a strong focus on Austrian and German wines. However, at Seasonal, we also have a focus on Burgundy outside of those two countries since this is the most important wine region for me. The wine list at Seasonal has a wide variety that ranges from affordable finds to more classic French selections. At Edi & the Wolf, the menu changes often as does the wine list, and we tend to lean more toward value-driven Austrian and German selections and less toward the French side since Burgundies can be a bit expensive.
Where do you shop for wine?
Crush Wine & Spirits is, hands-down, my favorite wine shop in New York. Those guys are the best, and they really understand my favorite wine regions.
Do you ever buy wine by the case?
I don’t really buy wines by the case; my apartment is too small to have the big wine cellar I want! I just pick up a few bottles every time I visit my wine shop.
Is there one perfect wine and food pairing for you?
Of course I have to go with the perfect Austrian pairing, Wiener Schnitzel with Grüner Veltliner. We serve our schnitzel with potato salad, cucumbers and lingonberries at both Seasonal and Edi & The Wolf, and it’s one of our signatures. That paired with a full-bodied Grüner is perfect! The dish and the wine come from the same region, and in my opinion, it’s best to serve wines with the cuisine of that particular region as you tend to get the best pairings.
Anything else you want to add?
Don’t be intimidated by it. I hear all the time that people don’t know how to do things the right way; they’re scared to make a mistake with wine. There’s no right or wrong way to drink wine, just go with your taste and what you like.