What type of wine would you suggest to accompany steak tartare and why?
The first wines that come to mind are Lagrein or Refosco from Northern Italy. Their great acidity and spicy dark fruit flavors along with softer tannins will pair wonderfully with the steak tartare. A few other options would be a northern Rhone Syrah and don't forget Greece - the Peloponnese Mercouri Estate makes a great Refosco and Mavrodaphne.
As an individual just being turned on to wines, and as an avid fan right away, what suggestions do you have regarding learning about wines, their compositions, and pairing?
It looks like you have the wine "Bug"! It is a feeling that you cannot explain, but wine geeks like us know well. The greatest advice I ever got was to above all keep an open mind and to try every wine you possibly can!
Try wines blind and judge for yourself without been influenced by others, especially wine writers. Remember we don't drink ratings! Everyone has a different taste and you should learn to trust yours; ultimately wine is for fun, food and friends. Have fun trying different wines and pairing with food and find out for yourself what food works with certain wines.
Wine publications can be of great asset giving suggestions of wine pairings, showcasing wine country sides and their culture and try to experience it for yourself by tasting or even better by visiting the wine areas. There is no better way to truly get to know a culture than by visiting it and wine and dine with the local people at their own home.
You may want to join a wine club or American Sommelier Association and take a beginner's course, get invited to industry wine tasting, meet wine people and find out how much fun it can be. After that you can figure which way you want to go.
Why don't you offer a better (quantity and quality) selection of drinkable chardonnays by the glass at the bar?
We are in the process of updating our entire list including wines the glass. The last four weeks we have made considerable changes adding higher end wines by the glass like a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Oregon Pinot Noir, Greek white from the Robola/Sauvignon Blanc grapes and a Washington State Sauvignon Blanc to name a few.
We also increase our half bottle selection to give our guests more options that were not available by the glass. Remember a half bottle is only 2 glasses and it is a guarantee of fresh, sound wine!
We appreciate your input and look forward to hear from you again.
What makes champagne different from other European sparkling wines?
There is nothing like Champagne, really! Its complex flavors come from the unique terroir (combination of soil topography, micro climate and sun exposure!), high levels of acidity and balanced fruit flavors. No matter how much we try to imitate the style of champagne one can only come close. It is like a California winemaker trying to make white burgundy out of his or hers chardonnay grape. Conversely a Burgundian producer trying to make California Chardonnay in France. That's what makes wine so interesting: it comes form the soil and it is bounded to the earth!
I thought Rieslings were sweet, but to my surprise I bought a bottle the other day and that was not the case. Any insight?
For many years America was flooded with over sweet, uninteresting Rieslings that did not represent what this great grape stands for. Fortunately conscious producer made their way into our market allowing us to discover what this amazing varietal is capable of.
As a general rule Austrian Rieslings are bone dry, always and so are the ones coming from Australia. In those countries the grapes have enough sunshine to achieve great levels of ripeness and the acidity level are relatively lower than cooler climates, so the winemaker can make its wine bone dry.
In Germany and Alsace because its cooler climates the acidity level are much higher and it have to be balance by leaving residual sugar on the finish wine. It is like making lemonade, it would be to acidic without sugar. Warmer sites in the best vineyards of Germany and Alsace Riesling achieve great level of ripeness giving the winemaker the choice to vinify bone dry or leave as much residual sugar they want to.
Lately we have experiencing a great wave of top German producers making their top wines in a dry style just like they do in burgundy and other top growing regions in the world. They want to proof that their best wines can be as good , if not better, than any other wine as they once were in the early 1900's.
I am making spicy LI duck for dinner. What wine would you recommend with the dish?
What are you a mood for?
For White nothing better than a German Riesling. There are phenomenal examples of Dry (Yes, Dry) and off dry style to pair with the richness of the Duck and the richness of the wine always brings out the best of and Long Island Duck.
If you are in the mood for red wine why not stay local with a Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend from the East end of Long Island. Great acidity levels and the soft tannins with a smooth earthy finish would be a wonderful pairing.