Two of NYC’s top sommeliers offer their learned suggestions for wines to go with winter’s rich dishes, celebrating wines from all around the USA.
Amy Racine is the Wine Director at The Times Square EDITION, located in NYC’s vibrant heart. Here she curates the wine programs at four distinct Chef John Fraser venues, creating a unique personality for each one. Her 600-bottle wine list at 701West is truly global with selections dating back to the 1930s. Paradise Club is an ode to Champagne, The Terrace features progressive New World producers and Lobby Bar is proudly all-American.
Amy also curates the easy-drinking, affordable wine list at The Loyal, a neighborhood American brasserie in Manhattan’s West Village. Her picks for the holidays focus on American brands.
Amy’s Holiday Picks:
1 Gruet “Domaine St Vincent” Brut Rosé (New Mexico) Welcome guests with bubbles, it’s a great way to get the appetite going before the big meal.
2 Old Westminster Abbey (Maryland) Rosé is a great wine for the holiday because it goes with everything on the table.
3 “Don’t Forget to Soar” White Blend (Texas) This is a great full-bodied option to please the rich Chardonnay fans without the big oak, from Southhold Farm + Cellars in the Texas Hill High Plains. Perfect for roasted veggies and stuffing.
4 Cowhorn Viognier (Oregon) This wine is floral and round and I love it with any potato dish or any apple dessert.
5 “Horseshoes & Handgrenades” Sparkling Lagrein (Texas) This is a juicy sparkling red with just a slight amount of fizz. It’s tart and fun with game birds like turkey, especially with the cranberry sauce.
6 Cowhorn “Moonraker” Red Blend (Oregon) This is a great Grenache/Syrah blend that’s smooth and great for turkey, especially the dark meat.
7 Koenig Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine (Idaho) I love this in place of port or dessert wine for anything with fruit or chocolate. It’s also great with cheeses and creamy desserts like cheesecake.
John Slover is the Sommelier of Major Food Group who’s created the 20,000 bottle inventory for trio of venues at the Seagram Building: The Grill, The Pool and The Lobster Club. With 18 years in the biz, John is one of the most acclaimed wine talents in the country whose experience includes wine programs at 4-star New York Times and 3-star Michelin restaurants, as well as curating collections for top wine aficionados. His wine picks focus on great American regions, some of which may be new to you.
John’s Holiday Picks:
1 Garagiste Ci Confonde Petillant Naturel (Vermont) One of several cult Pet-Nats that contributed to a rise in popularity for the category in the northeast: A rustic, humble wine with freshness, verve and briny cider-like fruit complexity that would pair well with anything from glazed sweet potatoes to turkey.
2 Macari Early Wine (Long Island) This family-run estate on the North Fork specializes in classic varietals grown on Long Island’s unique terroir. Early Wine is made of chardonnay, once a year where it is picked, fermented and bottled in a six week period. It is inspired by the Austrian tradition of Jungwien (or young wine) that has been promoted by Macari’s consultant winemaker Helmut Gangl. The wine gives a first impression of the vintage every year. Bright acidity, a touch of sweetness with lots of citrus and stone fruits. These are passionate and hospitable people, not only about Long Island wines, about everything! Their passion is shown in their wines. This would go great with snacks like cured fish and meats and hard cheeses.
3 Early Mountain Vineyard Petit Manseng (Virginia) Begun in 2005, Early Mountain Vineyard in the Rocky Knob AVA, Virginia’s foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, focuses on red Bordeaux varietals. They make Petit Manseng as well, a white grape from Jurancon, Southwest France, that grows well in Virginia with little intervention. Made of 100% Petit Manseng this is a wine of texture and intensity. Almost full bodied with a good amount of acidity. Tropical notes with a stony, salinic core. It would pair well with roast turkey and all the sides.
4 Habit Jurassic Park vineyard Chenin Blanc (Santa Ynez, CA) The Jurassic Park vineyard is home to the oldest dry-farmed Chenin Blanc vines in CA. This is a perfect aperitif while waiting for the feast to begin and would marry seamlessly with any vegetables that make it to the table.
5 Pax Trousseau Gris (Russian River Valley, CA) Pax Mahle started Pax Wines in 2000. Focusing on Syrah, the winery has moved on to more unique grape varietals planted around Sonoma Coast and the Russian River Valley. The Trousseau Gris comes from Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. It is made with a good amount of carbonic maceration that adds some more complex wild aromas and a deeper pink hue. The Trousseau Gris has no added sulphur. Trousseau Gris doesn’t seem serious but has more body than you’d expect and would pair well with rich vegetable sides.
6 Monte Rio Dry White Zinfandel (Suisun, CA) Monte Rio Cellars is a very recent collaboration between Pax Mahle and Sommelier Patrick Cappiello. A highlight of the first release is the Dry White Zinfandel. The grapes are picked very early in order to preserve the freshness and the acidity, which allows the alcohol to come in at a very modest 11% ABV. The scents of faint strawberry and watermelon are tied together by organic earth notes. The grapes are farmed organically in Suisun, just south of Napa. These wines are an homage to the commercial, sweet, innocuous white zinfandel that maybe our parents loved but made in a VERY DRY style. It goes well with a spicy sausage stuffing.
7 Arnot Roberts Touriga National Rosé (Lake County, CA) Founded in 2001 by longtime friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts the production is based on site-driven wines that highlight the nature of the unique terroirs. Their Rosé comes from 80% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Cao two late ripening varitals known mostly for Port Wine production in Portugal. The wine comes from Luschinger Vineyard-Clear Lake AVA. Bright fruited wine that is thirst quenching for the summer heat. You would never guess that this light rose comes from a thick skinned grape generally used for fortified wine. This would be a perfect pairing with roast beef.
8 Caduceus Cellars ’Nagual de la Naga’ (Arizona) Owned by Maynard James Keenan, the former singer for the band Tool, this Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend is inspired by Keenan’s love of Tuscan wines. It is a decadently fruity red reminiscent of rich, jammy shiraz, and would be a great pair for dark meat turkey with cranberry sauce.
9 Corliss Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington) Family-owned and ambitious, Corliss sources grapes from some of the best vineyards in WA state. This is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon with a seasoning of Petit Verdot and is a dark beauty with bombastic fruit. Drink with turkey, and if you happen to be serving roast beef or leg of lamb even better. And have another glass before a much needed afternoon nap.
10 Bedrock Wine Comapany Zinfandel Nouveau Esola (Amador County, CA) The father and son team at Bedrock have an unparalleled knack for re-discovering some of CA’s oldest and most interesting vineyards. This particular wine comes from a vineyard planted in 1968 and offers deep, smooth red and dark berry fruit that is a hallmark of old-vine zin. An undeniable pleasure that will pair well with almost everything, maybe even dessert. But then you could have another glass for dessert instead.