We love to drink wine, but as much as we hate to admit it, those mammoth-sized menus can be a little intimidating. Celebrity Wine Consultant Michael Green makes sense of it all and takes us to award-winning South Gate Restaurant in Manhattan.
Michael Green: So you're at the restaurant and a wine list is presented. Often in a hundred of selections, it looks like a phone book then a Sommelier comes over. How do you make sense of it all? My name is Michael Green here at South Gate Restaurant, New York City with beautiful views of Central Park. Today, let's go Behind the Burner and meet the sommelier. Hello, I'm here with sommelier Troy Weissmann, one of the coolest Sommeliers on the planet and dear friend. Troy, let's start with the wine list. Troy Weissmann: I think the most important to realize is that there's no reason to be afraid, nothing to be intimidated by, nothing that can really go wrong that’s going to ruin your night, and worst possible situation that you have a bottle of wine that’s maybe not your favorite, but other than that it's pretty much smooth sailing. Michael Green: Start with the navigational wine list, how do wine lists are organized? Troy Weissmann: Well, it just can be organized in a number of different ways. It can be organized by grape variety, so Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blancs, etcetera, or Cabernets and Merlots for red for example. They can organize geographically from north to south, in regions within a particular country. New World regions versus Old World regions like France and Italy. Michael Green: And also by style, light at the top, whole body to get the body. Troy Weissmann: Sure, that sends you off in small alignment. Michael Green: How do we engage a sommelier or a beverage director to get the most out of the restaurant wine experience? Troy Weissmann: Just don’t be afraid to ask. Guests call me over to the table or even when I approach the table, I always try to find out what it is about a particular experience that a guest is looking for with their wine. Are they looking to have a wine that pairs best with their particular dishes or are they looking to have a wine that they just generally like to drink? Michael Green: How do you start? Troy Weissmann: It's easy just to open the book and say. Michael Green: Book, I love it. Not a memo, but it's a book. Okay. Troy Weissmann: It takes people long enough to look through. Just to open it up and say, “Here's something that you might want to try” based on certain criteria that they might give. Michael Green: So I can say something like, “I'm having the chicken. My dining partner is having the V.O. We generally like full body wines Cabernet Sauvignon, help us out.” So how do I communicate price in an elegant way? Troy Weissmann: A sommelier doesn’t like anything more than to hear, I like to spend between X and Y. Michael Green: To tell you how much you want to spend? Troy Weissmann: That’s the easiest way to do it, but sometimes that’s not necessarily the most important. But if you're done with guests or your colleagues or you're taking people out in the business dinner, then you might want to be a more discreet about it, not like your guest knows exactly how much you're willing to spend for them. Michael Green: You were talking about discretion, I love the classic finger pointing moves. Give us that tip. Troy Weissmann: It’s so clear. If you find a wine in the list that’s in a price point that you're comfortable to spending, it's always great just to point to it and say, “I'm looking for something along these lines. I'm looking for something kind of like this or in this style.” Michael Green: I like to choose two fingers, one on the producer and one at the price so that way you're communicating. I want to take your recommendation, but here's my price plan. Troy Weissmann: Exactly and that’s very clear and then your sommelier is going to pick on that very quickly and be able to work with you on a particular parameter. Michael Green: Okay, tried grape wines on the list, what have you been loving lately? Why even drinking? Why you're working off work? Troy Weissmann: I tell you, I think I've been really drinking lighter style of wines from New World growing regions that maybe aren't in as typical a new world style as we might have in the past. An example of that would be something like Clare Valley, Australia. Michael Green: Absolutely delicious. Troy Weissmann: Clare Valley, Australia for a very old world mineral driven Riesling or the North Fork of Long Island for some really Bordello style Merlots. Michael Green: An excellent tip there is that if you know when you like a grape, go to a region that’s a little bit undiscovered like Clare Valley. Troy Weissmann: Absolutely. Michael Green: Troy, thanks so much for being Behind the Burner. The next time you're at South Gate, engage a sommelier. They're going to enhance your dining experience. Ask for Troy. Troy Weissmann: Thanks so much, Michael. Good to have you by. Michael Green: So stay tuned to Behind the Burner where we give you the tips, tricks and techniques that are lighting the culinary world on fire. Male: For the Q&A, photos and more, visit BehindTheBurner.com.