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You Could Play Multiple Drinking Games With the French Rom-Com “Back to Burgundy”

There doesn’t seem to be a romantic-comedy cliché missing from the bland French domestic Back to Burgundy, a wholly contrived post-adolescent coming-of-age yarn about broody thirtysomething Jean (Pio Marmaï) and his mojo-reviving trip back to his ailing father’s Burgundy vineyard.

Jean acts like a quintessential rom-com hero: He’s a stuck-up urbanite who recharges his batteries by bonding with his country-wise siblings, indecisive caretaker sister Juliette (Ana Girardot) and pouty hothead brother Jérémie (François Civil). The biggest difference between Jean and Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama is that Jean knows how hard his family works to cultivate their dad’s land since he already manages a large Australian winery with his estranged partner Alicia (Maria Valverde).

Unfortunately, viewers may need a drink once they realize how fully Jean and his family members are defined by shopworn tropes. You could even make a game of it: Take a shot whenever Jean either misunderstands or is misunderstood by Juliette and Jérémie. I recommend the scene in which Jean tells Jérémie that he hates their dad for never replying to a years-old letter about his dead mom. Seconds later, Jérémie produces their father’s schmaltzy, never-sent response.

And take a big gulp whenever characters only say what they really feel after they get stinko drunk, like when Jean tells Jérémie’s overbearing father-in-law Anselme (Jean-Marie Winling) that he won’t sell their family’s land to him. Finally, kill your drink once the pseudo-earthy flute, accordion, and turntable-inflected score stops being benignly forgettable and starts being depressingly chintzy.

Back to Burgundy
Directed by Cédric Klapisch
Music Box Films
Opens March 23, Village East Cinema

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This Week in Food: Latke Festival, Hester Street Market Freebies, Hydroponics Class

Eighth Annual Latke Festival
Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn)
Monday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Grab specialty latkes (like jerk chicken or sweet potato with duck confit) at this unlimited tasting, where a $70 ticket also includes wine, beer, and cocktails. Prizes will be awarded for best latkes by celebrity judges, and there will also be a people’s choice award.

More Goodie: A Pop-Up Thing at Thelma on Clinton
Thelma on Clinton (29 Clinton Street)
Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Enjoy live jazz, tasty bites, and delicious cocktails (thanks to bartenders from Estela and Dutch Kills) at this all-night affair. Shareable dishes include lard bread with pickle butter, chicken fried quail, and a foie gras po’ boy among others. Guests can purchase tickets ($39 per person).

Wine Wednesday
Hester Street Holiday Market (South Street Seaport, 117 Beekman Street)
Wednesday, 5 p.m.

The Hester Holiday Market is offering free wine, cider, and snacks on Wednesday for shoppers; however, guests must make an advance reservation.

Hydroponics Class
Institute of Culinary Education (225 Liberty Street)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Study the science of hydroponics and learn to grow herbs, fruits, and more at this hands-on class. Students of all experience levels and backgrounds can participate. Early bird tickets start at $65.

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Want to Drink Better Coffee? Think About It as You Would Wine

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a respected wine journalist and Master of Wine that left me incredulous for this person’s surprising attitude towards coffee. Asked to expound upon the significant parallels between both drinks, a nascent but certainly timely topic, this industry luminary quipped, “The only thing I care about in my coffee is that it is scalding hot.” It wasn’t a joke; it was declared almost indignantly. This writer might as well have told me their favorite beer in the world was Bud Light. Maybe this Mad Men-era opinion was earned after multiple decades in the wine industry, but I like to think not; and if you think this way, you are woefully out of date as well.

How could a wine lover and educator, a connoisseur of flavor and devotee to complexity and origin, nonchalantly dismiss another comparably complex, fragile, and nuanced liquid gift from the earth?

I write Unscrewed, a column dedicated to wine, and Filtered, a column dedicated to New York’s ever-evolving coffee (and tea) world. There are many parallels between these two worlds. Think about your coffee as you do wine, and you’ll drink better brew.

A Comparison of Coffee and Wine

Species and varietal classifications are key to understanding taste profiles
In the vinous world, grapevines Vitis vinifera (what we mostly drink) and Vitis labrusca (includes the Concord grape, and has earned a reputation for less desirable foxy aromas) are examples of high-quality v. working quality species. For coffee, that parallel is drawn between Arabica and Robusta.

Your local barista sells Arabica beans. She makes espresso with Arabica, pours your V-60 or Chemex with Arabica, serves drip from the Fetco with Arabica.

Robusta is considered a lower quality source. It’s mostly grown in Vietnam (when’s the last time you were offered a pour over originating in Vietnam?) and is used in many commercial blends such as Maxwell House, Yuban, and Folgers, whose cans of ground coffee still sell in supermarkets.

Within the Vitis vinifera subset of wine grapes, there are hundreds of varieties commercially cultivated for winemaking — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay are a few obvious ones.

Coffee’s equivalent of a “variety” is a cultivar. There are thousands of coffee cultivars within the Arabica species, important ones including Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, and the highly-prized, and priced, Geisha.

Each coffee cultivar exhibits certain, consistent flavor profiles but can still transmit the taste of a place, or terroir, when grown in different regions. Imagine the red berry flavors in a robust California Pinot Noir versus similar red fruits coupled with earthy notes in a lighter German version.

Terroir matters
I recall a great quote by writer Gabriel Chase. When attributing terroir to the differences between cognac and armagnac outside of distillation, he likened the notion of doing so to inventing a God to explain the unknown.

Terroir (literally French for soil) attempts to reference the precise growing environment (geography, soil, general climate, plus specific weather patterns that vary to year) of a specific area that renders its wine inimitable.

How tightly that is defined depends on the region and grower. Terroir isn’t given much (try zero) consideration in the large, hot swaths of heavily cropped and irrigated industrial vineyards of Colombard and Ruby Cabernet in Central California. In Burgundy, however, very small plots of land have demonstrated very different terroir. One hectare (about 2.5 acres) of Pinot Noir on a high, sunny slope of Morey-St-Denis compared to a neighbor’s bordering land with forest shade and slightly different soil and mineral patterns, can produce dramatically different wines (the hand of the vigneron notwithstanding).

The concept of terroir is new to coffee and just being explored, but there are some commonalities with wine, especially as far as recognition of origin and the flavor expectations that come with it. For example, several Ethiopian regions are now famous enough that many enthusiasts intrinsically understand that Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, or Harar indicate quality when scrawled on a blackboard in their neighborhood coffee shops.

Sensory Experience: Flavor, body, and acid
Around 200 flavor compounds have been discovered in wine. If you’ve ever been around a professional wine taster assessing a flight of Bordeaux, you may hear terms like cassis, cedar, and graphite bandied about. They’ll also comment on the body: light, medium, or full, and note the acid levels ranging from low to high.

Well, sidle up to a professional coffee cupper or Q grader and listen to the tasting notes they magically pull from a list of almost 500 flavor compounds found in coffee. More than double known to wine!

Just as red Bordeaux wines exhibit certain, consistent characteristics, so to do coffees. For example, recurrent elements found in Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe (mentioned above) are vibrant acidity, and citrus and floral notes, whereas coffees from Harar often have exuberant fruit aromatics, especially blueberry, apricot, plus spice notes. I can practically taste blueberry pancakes in some of the finest coffees of Ethiopia.

Wine and coffee quality both begin in the farm
Vintners confess that wine is made in the vineyard, and the same holds true for coffee. Just like seasonal harvesters of grapes, coffee farm workers have to learn how to properly pick ripe fruit, sort the good from the bad, and care for the beans to prevent mold or desiccation. Pruning, spacing, pest management, and watering are among the many considerations for coffee farmers, just like grape growers, to control and optimize, and both are susceptible to flavor variability due to seasonality, as well as devastating weather that can wipe out their crops and livelihoods for the year.

Geography
Wine grapes grow within a certain band of latitudes, the 30th to 50th parallels. Excessive heat shuts down grape development. High humidity promotes disease in the vineyard. Frigid weather kills vines during winter. Grapes need defined growing seasons with moderate winters for dormancy. (Although this notion is being challenged with so-called New Latitude wines.)

Coffee, also, has geographically productive limitations. The plant prospers in tropical regions, at altitudes generally above 3,000 feet which provides consistency in temperature, sunshine, rainfall, and also better drainage.

Seasonality
Grapes harvest occurs once a year. The concept of seasons applies to coffee harvesting, too. We all likely expect to drink a cup or two of coffee every morning, but we must forgo the notion that it will be the same coffee every day, unless we drink coffee with a heavy roast or from those aforementioned supermarket containers. Kenya’s crop arrives around late winter through spring whereas beans from Central America should arrive from spring through mid-summer.

Other flavor influencers
Compare the result of stainless steel storage versus new French barrique for wine, to the length of time and degree of heat used when roasting coffee. If a winemaker puts a subtle Pinot Noir for two years in new French oak, that Pinot won’t emerge tasting like fruit alone. If a roasters chars a delicate coffee (one could argue most coffees are delicate when green), until it looks like oily, black stones, you also won’t taste the primary fruit character of the coffee. That beautiful blueberry note found in your Harar? Transformed into toast.

I could carry on comparing grape mutations, hybrids, and crossings to coffee cultivars; the effect of hand-harvesting versus machines on grapes and coffee cherries; large, commercial farms versus small, estate grown fruit; and add that home brewers should remember beans are perishable and need to be stored properly, like your wine, but you’ve probably got enough to consider. Just remember, that coffee is a delicate product, as Nobletree’s John Moore said, it’s a “miracle it actually makes it to your cup.”

 

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This Week in Food: Free Burgers, Le Savoir, ‘Chef Story’ Live

Free Shake Shack Burgers
All Shake Shack Locations
Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Huzzah! Shake Shack has opened its 100th location, and all its New York City locations are offering a free, single ShackBurger to the first 100 guests of the day. The offer is valid from 10:30 a.m. until noon, but we have a feeling it pays to be an early bird.

Half-Priced Wine Night
BKW by Brooklyn Winery (747 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn)
Tuesday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Order two dishes (each $10 or more), and you’ll be able to toast your meal with select bottles of Brooklyn Winery’s goods, which are half price on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera Anniversary Dinner

Dos Caminos (Park Avenue) (373 Park Avenue South)
Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Chef Ivy Stark will host a three-course dinner (along with tequila pairings) inspired by  Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s anniversary. Feast on oyster soup, avocado tostaditas, braised beef short ribs, and — of course — wedding cake. Dinner is $95 per person (not including tax or gratuity). Reserve your spot by contacting Dos Caminos’s Park Avenue location.

Le Savoir

Skylight Clarkson Square (550 Washington Street)
Wednesday through August 22

Stella Artois’s Le Savoir is headed to New York for a week of interactive dining experiences thanks to “culinary wizards” Bompas and Parr. The event includes includes theatrical entertainment inside a “forgotten garden” that promises to awaken the senses. Dinner is $145 per person. Reserve your spot here.

Chef’s Story Live
International Culinary Center (462 Broadway)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sit in on a live taping of Heritage Radio Network’s Chef’s Story podcast featuring chef Ignacio Mattos. The interview will cover Mattos’s notable restaurant openings including Estela and Cafe Altro Paradiso. The conversation will also touch upon the chef’s life growing up in Uruguay. Make a free reservation here.

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This Week in Food: Vegan Pies, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Sandwich, Sumptuous Sampling

Fiddler on the Roof Sandwich
Carnegie Deli (854 Seventh Avenue)
Monday through July 31

Have you ever wondered what would happen if theater met…deli meat? Cue the new collaboration between the Carnegie Deli and Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof: “If I Were a ‘Wich Man.” This limited-edition sandwich will be available at Carnegie Deli until July 31. The sandwich features brisket and corned beef piled high, topped with swiss cheese, Russian dressing, cole slaw, and mayo for $29.99.

The Great Vegan Pie Contest
V Spot Organic (12 St. Mark’s Place)
Monday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bakers will square off against one another at the Great Vegan Pie Contest, where they’ll battle for bragging rights by using ingredients like watermelons, truffles, and s’mores. Tickets for the bake-off start at $20 and include servings of all the competing pie entries and vegan ice cream. What’s sweeter than that? Reserve yours here.

Heirloom Foundation Fundraiser With Tapas and Wine

Doma Na Rohu (27 Morton Street)
Monday, 7 p.m. to 9 pm

The Heirloom Foundation and TouchBistro are hosting a dinner fundraiser to raise awareness about healthy work environments for people battling anxiety, depression, and substance abuse in the hospitality industry. Sausage skewers, latkes, crepes, and more will be available at the event. Tickets are $25 and include all food, as well as a beverage. Reserve yours here.

Sumptuous Sampling Event 2016

Tropical Paradise Ballroom, Banquet Hall & Catering (1367 Utica Avenue, Brooklyn)
Tuesday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The start of East Flatbush Restaurant Week will bring over sixty restaurants together under one roof for the third annual Sumptuous Sampling Event on Tuesday night. Special offers will also be on hand for Sumptuous Sampling event-goers to use at eateries during East Flatbush Restaurant Week, which runs from June 29 through July 11.

Dinners in the Dark 

Camaje (85 MacDougal Street)
Thursday, 7 p.m. 

Feast on dinner while bathed in darkness at this unique tasting event. Blindfolded diners won’t be able to see what they’re eating, but they’ll be able to experience their other senses with heightened awareness (namely taste and smell). The menus will be kept a secret until the end of the event so diners can guess what they’ve been eating and drinking. Tickets are $90.67. Reserve your spot here.

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Best Weekend Food Events: Taste of Tituss, the Science of Pizza, Little Big BBQ

Taste of Tituss Pride Celebration
The OUT Hotel (510 W 42nd Street)
Friday, Saturday, and Monday

Actor Tituss Burgess is hosting three days of Pride parties, with all proceeds from this weekend going to GLAAD and Equality Florida. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star will launch his very own pinot and rosé wines, beginning with a three-course dinner (with wine pairings, naturally). The event includes a performance by Burgess himself. There will also be a rosé barbecue brunch on Saturday and an evening pinot party on Monday at XL Nightclub. Tickets start at $29. Reserve them here.

Brooklyn Makers Market

Williamsburgh Savings Bank (175 Broadway, Brooklyn)
Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Nearly 120 Brooklyn artisans will gather under one roof to showcase a broad sampling of the borough’s unique food scene for Brooklyn Makers Market. Some of the tasty businesses will include Drunken Fruit, maker of candy for grown-ups, and bakery Pie Corps NYC.

Pride Brunch
Riverview (2-01 50th Avenue, Queens)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer will celebrate his sixth annual LGBT Pride Brunch, which is open to the public and free to attend. Members and allies of the LGBT community will be able to feast on brunch and catch a show at the event. Reservations are encouraged. RSVP at EEhrenberg@council.nyc.gov.

The Science of Pizza! With Ninja Turtles, Donatella Arpaia, and Pete Genovese
Liberty Science Center (222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ)
Saturday, 12 p.m.

Donatella Arpaia and Pete Genovese are joining the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a look behind the science of pizza. The event includes a pizza-tossing contest, as well as a special catapult designed to launch toppings onto a giant pizza thirty feet away. Afterward, you can check out the Liberty Science Center’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer exhibit. Cowabunga, dudes!

Little Big BBQ
SolarOne (24-20 FDR Drive Service Road East at 23rd and East River)
Saturday, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A selection of meat-centric chefs will join up for a friendly cook-off, which includes competitions for best ribs and side dishes. The waterside barbecue bash includes chefs from Blue Smoke, Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ, and Hill Country. Tickets start at $45 and include all-you-can-eat food and drink. Reserve yours here.

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This Week in Food: ‘Super Upsetting’ Cocktail Party, Taste of Bushwick, Big Apple Zinfandel

A ‘Super Upsetting’ Cocktail Party (Featuring Sandwiches)
Weather Up Tribeca (159 Duane Street)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Celebrate the release of Tyler Kord’s A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches with cocktails and sandwiches from an all-star lineup of chefs. The No. 7 Sub chef will highlight tasty fare from Jonathan Wu of Fung Tu and Justin Bazdarich of Speedy Romeo. Tickets are $25 and include cocktails, food, and a copy of the book. Reserve yours here.

Fast Food With Andrew F. Smith
Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) Lab (62 Bayard Street; Brooklyn)
Tuesday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Explore the ins and outs of America’s obsession with the fast-food industry thanks to author and New School professor Andrew F. Smith. Prior to the discussion, guests can sample healthy versions of classic fast-food treats. Tickets ($40 for general admission) also include entry to MOFAD’s current exhibit. Reserve yours here.

Taste of Bushwick

Boar’s Head Distribution Plant (24 Rock Street; Brooklyn )
Tuesday, 6:30 pm to 9 p.m.

The third annual Taste of Bushwick will take place rain or shine and includes the largest lineup of restaurants the festival has ever had. Restaurants and food businesses at the event — forty total — include Montana’s Trail House and Faro, among others. An after-party will be held at Syndicated, with plenty of drink specials. General admission tickets are $50.

Taller Copenhagen Dinner

The Pines (284 Third Avenue; Brooklyn)
Wednesday, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Chef Karlos Ponte — of the Copenhagen-based restaurant Taller — brings his take on Venezuelan cuisine to Brooklyn for one night only. Dishes include caviar-topped corn crackers, black lentil noodles with chili and egg, and for dessert, cookie-dough-and-pineapple sorbet. An $85 ticket includes all nine courses; however, drinks are not included.

Big Apple Zinfandel Experience

Union Square Ballroom (27 Union Square West)
Thursday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Cool off with a glass of wine (or several) at this walk-around tasting, which will spotlight more than 70 different California Zinfandels. Between glasses, you can nibble on curated cheese boards from Saxelby Cheesemongers. Tickets start at $85.

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Best Weekend Food Events: Oiji’s Honey Butter Chips, Big Apple Barbecue, La Nuit en Rosé

25-Cent Nuggets
The Nugget Spot (230 East 14th Street)
Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

What’s better than cheap, delicious finger food on a summer Friday? This afternoon, the Nugget Spot will offer 25-cent nuggets until close. All seven different styles of chicken nuggets on the menu will be available — including Southern Belle, Cap’n Crunk, Cheese n’ Chong, Sriracha Nugs, Tso Tswag, Buffalo, and Skinny Nuggs.

Free Falafel Bar
Nanoosh (111 University Place, and other locations)
Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

All five Manhattan locations of Nanoosh are celebrating International Falafel Day with a free falafel tasting bar. Guests can choose from a selection of toppings like hummus, tahini, and habañero sauce to kick things up a notch.

Big Apple Barbecue
Madison Square Park (Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street)
Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The country’s top pit masters will meet up in Madison Square Park this weekend for the annual Big Apple Barbecue party. This year’s lineup includes a new entrant (Dallas’s Hutchins BBQ) along with returning favorites like Sam Jones of North Carolina’s Skylight Inn and Billy Durney of Red Hook’s Hometown Bar-B-Que. VIP ticket packages start at $275 and allow guests to skip the line at all barbecue stands. Get your tickets here.

Honey Butter Chip Pop-Up
Oiji (119 First Avenue)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Craving some sweetness on the go? Oiji is offering honey butter chips with ice cream from their take-out window. Get this sweet, salty, crunchy treat for just $10.

La Nuit en Rosé
Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship (Pier 40 at 343 West Street)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Sample over 150 different rosés from France, Italy, and California at this walk-around tasting. The event includes a brief cruise along the Hudson River, as well as food and entertainment. Reserve a ticket, starting at $95, here.

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This Week in Food: Anzac Day, Nuggets and Sake, and Le Grand Cercle Wine Tasting

Foodstand Food Book & Film Club: The Brooklyn Grange
Brooklyn FoodWorks (630 Flushing Avenue, Second Floor, Brooklyn)
Monday, 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Learn more about New York’s small food businesses and enjoy a screening of Brooklyn Farmer, which highlights urban farming in New York City. The Farm on the Roof author and Brooklyn Grange co-founder Anastasia Cole Plakias will be on hand to sign copies of her book and participate in a Q&A. A selection of food and drinks will also be available. Tickets are $11.54 and include food and drink. Reserve yours here.

Anzac Day
The Musket Room (265 Elizabeth Street)
Monday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

To celebrate Anzac Day, the Musket Room is offering a special New Zealand happy-hour deal. All New Zealand beers will be half-priced, and Chef Matt Lambert is whipping up special off-menu meat pies ($13).

Nugget Blossom Bash
The Nugget Spot (230 East 14th Street)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Nuggets and sake? Yep, at the Nugget Spot, you can enjoy both at the Nugget Blossom Bash. The tasting — which features ingredients inspired by Japanese cuisine — includes roasted cod with white miso, a Japanese-style rice ball with pickled daikon and carrot, a chicken-coconut karaage nugget, and a tofu nugget with gojuchang glaze. All nuggets will be paired with TY KU sake. Tickets are $40. RSVP at the Nugget Spot.

Italian Liberation Day Special Tasting Menu
Cacio e Vino (80 Second Avenue)
Tuesday through May 3

Celebrate Italian Liberation Day with a weeklong tasting of Sicilian food and Stemmari wine. Guests can enjoy a four-course prix-fixe meal with wine pairings for $55 (gratuity and tax not included). The menu includes arancini, stuffed sardines, Sicilian-style pizza, pastas, and pork spare ribs.

Le Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux Grand Wine Tasting
Pier A Harbor House (22 Battery Place)
Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Toast the wine (and winemakers) of Bordeaux with a selection of 2015’s best vintages at Pier A Harbor House. Guests can also purchase wines directly from winemakers, and light bites will be available during the tasting. General admission tickets are $45 — get yours here.

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Sip Five of Portugal’s 50 Great Wines for Less Than $15

Every year, a small group of Master Sommeliers gathers in a room for a week to blind taste through nearly 600 Portuguese wines. Their goal? Produce a list of 50 incredible bottles to represent Portugal’s breadth of indigenous grapes, regions, styles, and quality for the coming year.

“I put on five pounds that week just eating nuts. I needed the fat to help cut through the tannins,” Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly told the Village Voice at the unveiling of the 2016 lineup this week in New York City. Joining Kelly in the deliberations for Portugal’s 50 great wines were Peter Granoff and Madeline Triffon — both contributing an impressive resume to the sum of the panel’s collective expertise. Kelly spent a decade at the French Laundry, Granoff once earned the James Beard Foundation’s “Sommelier of the Year” title, and Triffon was the second woman in the world to pass the rigorous Master Sommelier examination.

At this year’s event unveiling the final list of 50 Great Portugese Wines, media and industry guests were treated to a seated tasting at the historic General Theological Seminary. Tasters received a thorough, guided explanation of each of the 50 chosen bottles which included whites, reds, Port, and Madeira. The panelists — Kelly, Granoff, and Triffon — presented the honorees, and several of the noted producers flew in to present their wines and tell the story of their creation.

Portugal consistently turns out excellent, fairly priced wines — but don’t pigeonhole the region as just a value-driven producer. While the country is ever focused on wine quality, this year’s list of 50 Great Portuguese Wines did underscore their reputation as a source for inexpensive wine.

So how can Portugal sell such great wine for so little?

“Low labor cost combined with multiple generational land ownership are major contributing factors. The high costs associated with new land purchases are eliminated,” explains event moderator Eugenio Jardim, Wines of Portugal‘s U.S. ambassador.

Event organizer and Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein of Full Circle Wine Solutions further elaborates: “With the exception of some sites in the Douro, vineyard costs are simply not what they are in other places, and the cost of living keeps wages lower in relation to neighboring nations.” Goldstein also cites supply and demand as a contributing factor. “In the global market place, there has been less historical demand on the wines since they are not at the top of the consumer’s mind,” he says. “Recall, it was not that long ago that the Portuguese wine market was primarily Port, Madeira, Mateus, and inexpensive Vinho Verde.”

The good news for Portuguese producers — confirmed by export data released from ViniPortugal, as reported by the Street — shows that “Portuguese wines to the U.S. increased by 16.3 percent in 2015 with dry wines leading the charge with an increase of 22.6 percent.” This bodes well for both winemakers and lovers of the Iberian nation’s wines. Just remember: Prices creep up with demand, so why not add Portugal to your wine repertoire now?

A vineyard in Portugal's Alentejo
A vineyard in Portugal’s Alentejo

Don’t miss these five of the 50 Great Portuguese Wines for under $15:

Lavradores de Feitoria Douro
Producer: Lavradores de Feitoria
Region: Douro
Vintage: 2014
Price: $9.99
Don’t be discouraged by this white blend’s unfamiliar grape names like Malvasia Fina, Síria, and Gouveio. This bright quaffer explodes with juicy citrus, apple, and mineral zip. It’s perfect for an aperitif or a party, especially given the price tag. The wine derives from a project in the Douro Valley composed of 18 young winemakers (“lavradores” means growers). Under the direction of the renowned Dirk Niepoort, Lavradores de Feitoria have decided to work together to bottle their labor instead of selling it to a local co-op. Imported by Polaner Selections.

Casal de Ventozela Loureiro
Producer: Soc. Agrícola Casal de Ventozela
Region: Vinho Verde
Vintage: 2014
Price: $14.99
Ocean breezes off the neighboring Atlantic bring freshness to this floral and fruity expression of the Loureiro grape. Delivering pear, apple, and peach notes with striking acidity, this wine tastes like spring on the verge of bloom. Take it outdoors with a platter of shellfish on a sunny afternoon. This wine is produced by a family estate located in Mogege, Vila Nova de Famalicão. Imported by VOS Selections.

Dona Ermelinda Reserva
Producer: Casa Ermelinda Freitas
Region: Península de Setúbal
Vintage: 2013
Price: $14.99
Notes of violets and blueberries pop from a glass of Dona Ermelind Reserva. In the mouth, the wine’s firm tannins bolstered by oak aging beg for a grilled lamb chop. The producer dates back to 1920 and is one of the fastest growing companies in the Portuguese wine sector, having recently won several awards. Translation: Their wines will get easier to find in the U.S. Imported by Aidil Wines & Liquors.

Barão De Vilar
Producer: Baos Quintas
Region: Dão
Vintage: 2013
Price: $11.99
Cool nights contribute brisk acidity to this blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Jaén. The silky texture and juicy red fruits — especially notes of fragrant strawberry — make this medium-bodied bottle a food-friendly weeknight sipper. The winery, established in 1996, is managed by a family with 14 generations of experience behind them. Imported by Votto Vines.

Vale do Bomfim
Producer: Symington Family Estates
Region: Douro
Vintage: 2013
Price: $12.49
A Touriga-heavy blend (Franca and Nacional) with Tinta Amarela, and several others grapes, this bottle is an absolute bargain. Smoke, pepper spice, and cassis notes create flavor complexity, while smooth tannins offer versatility with myriad meats from pork chops to flank steak (even a portabella mushroom for the vegetarians out there). This wine is produced by the Symington Family who have been making Douro Valley wine and Port for 125 years. Imported by Premium Port Wines.

Lauren Mowery is a drinks and travel writer, and Master of Wine candidate.