Archive for the ‘Wine Bars’ Category

Wine Wand – WOW!

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Yet again, it has been a while since my last post…can’t say it has been writers block anymore.  I have so much to say…

My infatuation with tasting wine hasn’t waned and I was recently in touch with a new friend, Jeff over at Vini Wine Bar in Davis, CA.  He is one of the great ones in this business, making wine accesible to all & encouraging people to taste wine whenever possible, in his case by utilizing wine dispensing machines to enable small tastes of wine for people before they go ahead and purchase bottles.  Great work Jeff…keep it up!

Though I’m primarily writing today as relates to wine aeration devices.  I’ve previously spoken highly of one such gadget I really like, the Vinturi.  I think it does a great job of helping young wines open up quickly, eliminating the need to wait for a wine to open up.  But I was recently introduced to a very cool device known as the Wine Wand.  While not inexpensive, this is a device like no other.  Rather than force the wine through a device that introduces extra oxygen to the wine to speed up the aeration process the Wine Wand is a Philip Stein product.  Philip Stein is best known for their watches and devices that work with “Frequency Technology”.   Frequency technology is based on the idea “that natural frequencies (have) the power to improve one’s overall wellbeing”.  The frequency technology in their watches “provide information to the biofield that makes the person more resilient and adaptable to stress”.

Getting back to the wine wand, I tried it last night for the first time and I was impressed.  It seemed to accomplish what it set out to accomplish, specifically help a wine to open up and become more aromatic and soft within 2-3 minutes.

How does it work you ask??…from the Philip Stein website: “The Wine Wand has been created to accelerate the aerating process of wine by replicating the natural frequencies of air and oxygen, and infusing them into the wine.  This process allows your favorite wine to be perfected and ready to drink in only 2 or 3 minutes. ”

Well, I must sadly admit that all this natural frequency stuff is way over my head.  But I can tell you that the wine opened up nicely and showed REAL WELL when I used the wine wand.

So if you are in Davis, CA go visit Jeff at Vinibar and if you are looking for an elegant and unique wine “open-upper” (hey, its not an aerator) for the wine lover who seemingly has everything check out Philip Stein’s new Wine Wand.

Happy Wine Tasting!



Wine bars & BIG “Wines of Israel” tasting

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

The big “Wines of Israel: Mediterranean Inspiration” (cool name huh?) tasting is coming up TOMORROW, February 3rd in NYC!!!  More on this in a second.

First I want to VERY BRIEFLY mention my experience at two local wine bars this evening.  A good friend and Israeli wine industry professional is in town for the big tasting and we went out and grabbed …what else  –  a couple of glasses of wine.

We began by going to CLO, a (relatively) new wine bar that has been written about by LOTS of bloggers.  Sadly I can NOT tell you anything about it as I could not gain entrance.  NO, they weren’t packed with people on this typically quiet Monday night.  They had some guests remaining from a work function.  I was told I must come back another time.  I understand that this kind of thing happens, and I suppose I could have called in advance to make sure I wouldn’t encounter any issues.  But what ticked me off was the unapologetic and unsympathetic nature of the girl who turned me away.  Again, giving the benefit of the doubt I joked around with her when I first walked in so maybe she thought she was joking around with me.  But I told her I was meeting someone from out of town and she could have been a tad more sympathetic.  Oh well…MAYBE I’ll try again.  Should I???

Having been denied entrance at CLO I met my friend and we walked North a few blocks to Bar Boulud.  I’ve never quite made it into this place (although I have wanted to for a while) but picked the right night tonight.  Well, only insomuch as the place was empty.  Between the two of us we tasted (2 oz pours) about 7 different wines.  We enjoyed about 5 of them so that went well.  The help was nice, attentive (that isn’t saying much as we were 2 out of maybe 10 people there – but it was the last hour of the night; 10-11PM) and knowledgeable.  Our first round (of tastes) was brought over by a gentleman with an accent – I think it was French.  He was professional, knowledgeable, nice, even apologetic when I asked for a wine within a flight to be replaced with another (didn’t happen).  But I must admit (and please don’t think me a bigot) I find something so damned pretentious about people with French accents speaking about wine.  Maybe I am just jealous…who knows.  What can I tell you…it just rubs me the wrong way.  You all know how much I hate pretension in wine so I am sure I’m overreacting.  Over all though I have nothing to complain about as it was a pretty cool place with good wines & good service.

NOW – back to the aforementioned WINES OF ISRAEL: Mediterranean Inspiration tasting.  It is happening tomorrow; Tuesday February 3rd. I’m sorry for not notifying you of this sooner, but it is an industry event primarily for media and those in the trade.  But fear not, most/many of these wines (and others) will be coming to a location near YOU very soon.

If anyone has specific questions about the event feel free to be in touch (pre or post event).

As to the event itself, there will be two seminars.  One led by Mark Squires, wine critic for the Wine Advocate and another led by Victor Schoenfeld, head winemaker for what some regard as Israel’s top winery – Golan Heights Winery (AKA “Yarden”).  I am eagerly looking forward to hearing what Squires has to say…

There will be representatives from about 20 wineries at the event.  The bigger usual suspects (all kosher) as well as some smaller boutique wineries (many of whom have decided not to obtain kosher certification).  The cost for wineries to participate was not cheap, but it was low enough to enable some of the established boutiques to attend.  These boutiques make some very nice wines, but unfortunately many of them price their wines at levels that prevent the masses from trying them.  This is party due to the costs associated with producing wine on a smaller scale.  But also because of how highly they are regarded within Israel.  Many of them are entering the US for the first time and I am worried for them.  It is a very tough time (given the dismal state of the economy) to introduce a (relatively) expensive luxury good to a new market that has no shortage of alternatives.  I suspect that given where these wines are priced that they will need to be supported by Zionists who are willing to pay a premium for very nice wines from Israel.  I suppose only time will tell – but I am rooting for you guys and as always I’ll be singing your praises…

More about the tasting to come.  If you are there please come by and say hi.  In case we have never met I’ll be sporting my good suit 😉

Happy pleasant wine bar and Israeli wine tasting!!


Visit to “Terroir”

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Those of you who are regular readers are probably familiar with the term Terroir.  As such, you may be confused by my claimed ability to go visit what is loosely described as “a sense of place”.  Fear not, I haven’t COMPLETELY lost it – only partially…          


Having cleared that up, what I did visit last night was the WINE BAR “Terroir”.  Terroir is located on East 12th Street in what is considered to be the East Village, near Tompkins Square Park.  It is a pretty cool area, but the bar is in the middle of a block, a bit hard to find, and really in the middle of nowhere.  Yet, on a holiday weekend, Sunday night, IT WAS PACKED!  WHY????

The place is at first glance nothing special.  Some bizarre t-shirts adorning one wall combined with its somewhat psychedelic menu make this place original, but why is it packed??  The place probably only seats about 25 people between the bar and the 1 communal table so I suppose filling such a small place is easier than a space that seats 125.  The prices seemed a bit high and there is a clear biased to Rieslings – not that there is anything wrong with that.  At first, the crowd made very little sense to me…

But then I got down to business with my fellow wine club members and started tasting.  WOW!  To begin with, our server (Emily) was great.  She was warm, sweet, patient and quite knowledgeable (or so she seemed).  As a bunch of winos, rather than buying a bottle or even glasses we opted for tastes – 3 oz. pours that allowed us to sample a variety of wines.  I took my cue from Emily and a fellow wine club buddy when coming up with my choices.  And while all the recommendations weren’t perfect, having tiny samples before selecting ensured that I was happy with what I ended up with.

We finished the night with a pretty hefty bill, but I tasted 8 or 9 different wines, drinking 6 of them and really enjoyed myself.

The wines I tasted without tasting notes – sorry, wasn’t that kind of tasting…

Muscadet – Sevre & Maine, Cuvee Medaillee, Pierre Luneau, 1995, Loire Valley (100% Melon de borgogne).

Pinot Gris – Cuvee Cecile, Lucien Albreacht, 2004, Alcase.

Chablis – Bel Air Et Clardy, 2006, de Moor (100% Chardonnay)

Riesling – Spatlese, Rudesheimer Berg Rottland, Ehrhard, 1990, Rheingau.

All very nice wines, yet the Riesling was unbelievable, especially for a 1990 – or maybe because it was a 1990???

Moving on to reds, I was feeling pretty good at this point, and ended up trying about 4 reds.  I did not care for 2 of them that friends did in fact enjoy, but thoroughly enjoyed the other two.

Not my favorite was the dirty/barnyardy 2000 Moulin-Tacussel Southern Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape or the fruitless the 2005 Monthelie, Cuvee Paul, Paul Garaudet, Cote de Beaune.

Yet I did really enjoy two nice acidic and somewhat lighter reds.

The Saumur Champagny, Thierry Germain, 2005 Loire Valley 100% Cab Franc has nice subtle fruit, some herbaceous notes and a great acidity.

While the 100% St. Laurent (the name of the grape), Reserve, Forstreiter, 2005, Kremstat was a new varietal for me.  It was light yet it had some depth, minerality and a subtle fruitiness.

Overall a fun and educational wine tasting evening for the Wine Tasting Guy & friends…

Happy WACKY WINE BAR Wine Tasting!


selling wine, pouring wine & making wine – I’m BEAT!

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

The past 48 hours (actually all week) have been truly fabulous and unbelievably exhausting!

I’m averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night which is not terrible, but not too great either.   I’ve poured wine for retailers I’m trying to sell wine to.  I’ve poured wine at retailers for consumers I am hoping will buy bottles of the wine (they should – it is good stuff).  And I poured wine while playing guest bartender tonight at a fabulous intimate wine bar on the Upper East Side.

But before that, yesterday at about 4PM, I went out to Jersey to work on the Wine Tasting Guy cuvee’.  Actually, it is a wine I am making with two close friends.  The one I’ve previously mentioned.  I received a call on Monday from the guy whose garage we are using as our pseudo winery, informing me that the wine has finished fermenting and we MUST press it.  Wine ferments in open containers and it gives off CO2 while it is fermenting which protects it from the oxygen.  But when it stops fermenting it is no longer protected and must be moved to an oxygen free container.

fermenting wine

Sure enough I raced from work on Wednesday to Jersey so that we could press the wine.  And lo and behold while the fermentation had neared its end and slowed dramatically, it WAS still fermenting.  The wine was protected and there was no emergency.  But I must admit that our Cali Cab was virtually done so we went ahead and pressed that (pic to come…I hope).

So far I think this years wines are going to be VERY DIFFERENT from last years.  Much less fruit forward and more acidic.  They will be wines with a longer life, but potentially a little less approachable in their youth.  Or so I suspect…but I suppose only time will tell…

And as for tonight, while pouring at the retailer for the consumers was OK, the real fun was playing guest bartender.  I met some cool people and poured a lot of Israeli wine that people really enjoyed.  I was quite proud!

Now if only I had my own wine & sold it at my own wine bar…  Wouldn’t THAT be cool?!!?!!!!!  😉

Happy wine insanity!


How a wine bar should construct their wine list

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

I’ve been working with two NYC wine bars of late.  In the past I have done some consulting, but this time I am doing it from the sales side.  I’m working with an amazing Israeli wine producer and these two wine bars are interested in carrying at least some of our products.  But they are deciding which wines to carry in very different ways.

So how do the ever important wine buying decisions get made???

coin flip

OK, so it is not that simple or arbitrary.  And like everything else about wine, there really isn’t any “right or wrong”.  But what I want to discuss tonight is the two different approaches of the two wine bars I’ve been selling to this week.

The first and more conventional method is to taste the wines, decide which ones you find of interest or intrigue, and purchase those for your wine list.  This is basically how one wine buyer is doing things.  This buyer had me come meet him at his wine bar with some wines (we spoke about his preferences before the meeting) and we tasted through them together with the bartender working that night.  At this initial meeting I only had 3 wines, and of the three he liked one.  Which is great.  I have others I hope to show him, and I really hope that the wines do well at his wine bar.  He seemed to be a good guy, I liked how he involved the bartender, and for it to be successful for me it has to be successful for him.

The best part of this tasting in my opinion was the involvement of the bartender.  It is the bartender that becomes the salesperson of the wine.   And if the bartender likes the wine they will be more likely to recommend it.

The method employed by the other wine bar was in many ways similar, but in actuality quite different.  The second wine bar is the one I wrote about last week where I held a wine tasting.  They had me come down with several bottles and pour the wines for their customers.  Sure they tried the wines and of course they were only interested in wines that THEY liked themselves.  But the owner was aggressively seeking input from the customers regarding the wines they tried that night.  Which led to a theory the owner has – one I am not sure I buy into 100% but that seems to have some merit.  He told me that he has learned about the palates of his customers.  While watching him interact I can certainly believe this, yet what is most amazing is that he believes that people in his neighborhood (most wine bars are neighborhood establishments) have a common palate that is different from people in other NYC neighborhoods.

Now I suppose that if you were to travel around the different areas of Manhattan you would notice different personality types, different dress, and maybe even different food preferences.  But different wine palates???  Hey, this guy is a mathematician and former professor, who am I to argue with him?

So I guess it comes down to whose wine preference is more important, the one serving (and recommending) the wine or the one drinking (and paying for) the wine.  One might initially think it is obviously the consumer preference that is most important.  But the truth is, with the power of suggestion being as strong as it is with wine, I ‘m not so certain…

Happy favorite wine bar wine tasting!


A beautiful woman and a fabulous wine bar

Monday, August 18th, 2008

NOOOO…I did not pass away and go to heaven (although I bet that is what MY heaven looks like).  But I must admit that this afternoon and evening were quite wonderful.

Late this afternoon I had the opportunity to meet a gentleman with whom I have been in touch for a long time.  This guy is working to promote THE CAUSE – Israel wine.  And he seems to be doing a great job of it.  His approach is unique, but his passion is unmistakable.  He invited me to meet him at an in-house wine tasting event.  At this event he poured several wines, spoke to the people about the wines and the winemakers, and then took orders for said wine.  All the wines were Israeli wines made at what are considered to be boutique operations.  And while some of the wines showed better than others, all were generally warmly received.  Way to go Richard!

From this fabulous event I went to meet a lovely young lady at a wine bar I have been meaning to check out.  The young lady looked terrific (no, not because I drank a lot at the wine tasting event) and the wine bar was doing “IT” right.

What is “IT” you ask?  Ahhh…good question.  IT is the prefect level of service where the customer feels attended to, appreciated, yet not crowded, rushed or made to feel anything less than like a king.   Just really great service.

wine bartender

Upon initially speaking with the server, she modestly deferred to the asst. sommelier for wine related issues – something I greatly appreciate rather than being fed B.S. about wines they might know nothing about.  The sommelier was cordial, polite and gracious and brought us 4 samples to try so that when we made out ultimate selection we would be sure to be pleased.  And the clincher was the follow up service.  They were attentive, but from afar.  I was thrilled to be pouring my own wine from the carafe in which it was served.  And throughout my time I noticed the server looking over, almost waiting to be summoned, but not crowding us in any way.  She was really amazing.  How she came up with what (in one persons humble opinion) was the perfect combination of space & attentiveness I will never know.  But she got IT!

Happy fabulous (Israeli) wine tasting!


Highly regarded WINE BAR

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

As reported in my previous post, I did in fact make it out to a wine bar tonight. Said wine bar is technically located in the West Village, but it is just North of trendy Tribeca – and it definitely had a trendy aura to it.

The good: the staff was really great. I was a pain in the ass as I often tend to be (unintentionally) at wine bars, yet the staff was warm, patient and very cool. The two people behind the bar that helped out were also quite knowledgeable, and definitely NOT pretentious. Oh yeah, and the place had great stemware!

wine server

The bad: well, there was no “bad” per say. But if I had to complain about anything (more…)

Secrets of a successful wine bar

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Those of you who know me or who have been reading the blog for any period of time know of my infatuation with wine bars.  Since returning to NYC from Napa, at the advice of several amazing wine industry mentors, I have been frequenting NYC’s wine bars.  All part of my journey, a journey I hope never ends, to train my wine palate.

Wine evaluation

A quick post tonight in anticipation of a visit to yet another wine bar tomorrow night. The wine bar I will be going to tomorrow night is very well regarded.  It has received positive press, and has had positive things written by patrons online.  I look forward to checking this relatively new place out, hopefully enjoying a glass or two of wine, and passing my own judgment.

As to the title of this post, “secrets of a successful wine bar” – I was speaking with a restaurant consultant today.  The topic of wine bars came up and he let me know that he believes there are 3 essential factors (more…)

Wine bar rants

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Went out to a bunch of places with different friends last night. Fun but exhausting.

I want to talk about the wine bar/restaurant I went to. The place is in my neighborhood and while I have walked passed it many times this was my first time in. A very nice spot. This clearly was not a traditional wine bar, but the front part of the space was in fact much like a wine bar, while the back was a more traditional dining area. The front section had a long bar, a long COMMUNAL TABLE and some smaller spots scattered around.

communal table

One weird thing that seems to drive the help nuts and was a bit of a bummer for me was the wine list and its two columns. The first being the glass price and the second being the bottle price…right? WRONG! (more…)

What constitutes a wine bar?

Monday, June 30th, 2008

By now many of you are aware that part of my Israel Wine project involves wine bars.  As such I went out with some business associates tonight and we both perused several wine bars then ultimately stopped for some drinks and a bite at a new place that calls itself a restaurant & wine bar.

Is a wine bar a place with a large selection of wines?  Is it a place with several offerings by the glass?  Is it a place where snobbery rules?  Does there need to be a sommelier?   How about fancy stemware?  Or even a massive wine display?

wine tower