From the Ground Up with Paul Hobbs @ bahr che

Located at 26 Astor Place, bahr che sets a romantic scene for an intimate gathering inside their 10-table quaint yet classically chic space. With a dramatic wine wall lined with endless bottles of great wines from across the world, bahr che proves to be a true date spot and one of the only that I’ve noticed in Astor Place.  As a true hidden gem, or I’m sure not so hidden anymore, you will find yourself dining there on a romantic date, popping in for a glass of wine found on their treasured wine list or enjoying a nightcap on your way home from downtown with the friendly staff.

And… Just as you thought this wine, cheese, and charcuterie couldn’t sound any better, they also offer Winemaker Wednesdays to exhibit the authenticity of a good wine bar through introducing wines and winemakers to guests who love the exploration of wine.  On February 1st, I was invited to a special wine tasting with renowned winemaker Paul Hobbs at bahr che for their Winemaker Wednesday event.

Now onto the winemaker – Paul Hobbs…

From growing up in Buffalo, NY with ‘no wine on the dinner table’ to studying and working amongst the leading winemakers in the industry (Simi, Robert Mondavi), Paul Hobbs shared his journey of wine through his fabulous wines from California and Argentina.  The night was full of listening to his stories, trials and errors, and connecting the wine to his words (and small bites!) one sip at a time.  His parting words when we asked, “What is one thing you want to share with the world of wine lovers” his response – “Just remember, from the ground up”.  So many meanings and so much detail to think about!

Some favorites from the night…

Vina Cobos, Bramare Marchiori Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 – $39.99
Extreme buttery taste with a hint of apricot. Extremely smooth.  Highly recommend for those buttery Chard lovers!

2009 Pinot Noir, ‘Lindsay Vineyard’ Paul Hobbs – $97
A beautiful garnet colored Pinot Noir with a delicious plum and luscious fruit flavor.  It almost tasted like a ripe fruit roll-up. Hints of oak.  Very exquisite Pinot Noir that is worth the splurge!

2010 Vina Cobos Felino Malbec – $25
Black plums, hint of cedar taste, extremely ripe tannins that make this wine beautifully structured and should be served at a fancy date night dinner by candlelight

Another Wine Deal for Monday!

Another great wine deal for a wine filled Monday night in NYC!

The Fatty Crab on the Upper West Side is offering half off select bottles of wine on Monday nights with dinner!

Fatty Crab
2170 Broadway

Add this to our Monday Funday List starting with “Wine Down Monday’s @ STK” {here}

Best Sangria in NYC

As I was enjoying a nice glass of red sangria with my closest girlfriends last night I was thinking it would be nice to compile a comprehesive list of all of the best Sangria places in NYC.  It is getting warmer, spring is here and summer is just hours away, who doesn’t like to sit outside and enjoy a refreshing glass of ice cold sangria filled with luscious fruit!  But before getting into it.. here is a great recipe to use for your next summer bbq!

Make Your Own Sangria (Courtesy of Mr. Bobby Flay from Food Network)

2 bottles red Spanish table wine
1 cup brandy
1/2 cup triple sec
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup simple syrup, or more to taste (equal parts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves, cooled)
Orange slices
Apple slices
Pomegranate seeds
Mix all ingredients together and let stand in a
tightly sealed container or pitcher for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Best Sangria in NYC:

Calle Ocho (446 Columbus Ave) – All you can drink Sanrgria special with brunch on the weekends.  Over 10 different types to choose from… Delish but beware, you may have to cancel all plans for the rest of the day!

Pipa Tapas Bar (38 East 19th Street) – Beautiful chandeliers surround you while you sip on your glass or pitcher of red or white Sangria with friends – Gets rowdy! They chop their fruit up to be bite size which I like.

Flor De Sol (361 Greenwich Street) - Monday nights $10 sangria; they offer amazing Sangria options – Red, White, Champagne, White with Strawberries, and if you need a real pick me up, White w/ Banana and Red Bull!

El Charro (4 Charles St.) – An extremely authentic experience with great pitchers of Sangria

Oliva (161 E Houston St between East Houston St & Chrystie St) – Wednesday’s Happy Hour 5:30 – 8pm.  They pour and pour and pour all night long while listening to a live Jazz band!

Boqueria (two locations; Flatiron & Soho) – Amazing Sangria!  Also have a great sherry selection!

Alta (64 West 10th Street) – Must try Alta’s ‘non-traditional’ Sangria.. “What makes it so good? We could tell you, but we’d have to kill you…”

Las Ramblas (170 West 4th Street) – You can enjoy either in a chilled glass or by the pitcher with lots of great LARGE fruit!  Delish.

Nice Matin.. Where It All Started…

Apologies on the lack of posts but work has been SUPER busy, however, of course a good thing and nothing a glass of French Bordeaux can’t fix!  However, I took a quick breather today to get my ‘wine news’ fix and stumbled upon a totally relevant topic that correlates to where it all started, my first job!

Not only is this article an amazing write up on Nice Matin’s evolution in it’s most sensational and thorough wine cellar in all of the Upper West Side, this also was the landmark where I received my first job offering right out of college!  I believe at the time I was sipping on a vodka soda with a lime, and with hands shaking with nervousness, met with my now CEO of my company and was formally offered a job to be his assistant.  Of course, I probably guzzled more of those afterwards in excitement but little did I know I would transition from the custom cocktail drinker to a savvy wine drinker that wants to swirl, smell and sip before getting a full glass!  Maybe that’s what NYC does to you, makes you more picky – which it’s ok to be!

Now this restaurant is making a new name for itself by way of it’s always contemporary and inspiring wine list!

My how mature I have become.. once a vodka soda girl, now a wine junky that can’t get enough!  Just kidding, but I still LOVE IT!

Enjoy and Salud!

From NY Time’s – THE POUR

At Nice Matin, a Wine List That Hits All the Marks


AS exciting as it feels to pick up a wine list already well known for its great bottles, it’s even more electrifying to have few expectations and to be knocked back in goggle-eyed surprise.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Aviram Turgeman, Nice Matin’s beverage director, in the restaurant’s wine cellar. Nice Matin bought the cellar of Chanterelle after that restaurant shut down.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Two bottles more than 40 years old.

I suppose it was adrenaline that surged when I recently set eyes on the list at Nice Matin, a Provençal restaurant on the Upper West Side. There I was, expecting a standard-issue list. Instead, I was handed a leather-bound book, almost 60 pages’ worth with 2,000 selections, packed not only with trophy bottles like 19th-century first-growth Bordeaux, well-aged grand cru Burgundies and tête de cuvée Champagnes, but also wonderful selections in the neighborhood-friendly $50 and under range.

Here was a list to satisfy anybody, whether you want California fruit bombs or old-school Napa cabernets, grower Champagnes or a good selection of half bottles, reds from Lebanon or (who knew?) a 38-year-old cabernet franc from Brazil.

It’s been a most unlikely journey for Nice Matin. When it opened in 2003, William Grimes gave it two stars in The New York Times, noting “an evenhanded international list of 140 wines that could use more from the South of France.” Since then, the restaurant has settled into comfortable middle age, serving a loyal clientele from the neighborhood as well as travelers staying at the Lucerne Hotel, which shares the building. But the wine list has gone stratospheric.

What other way to explain such treasures as a 2008 Pouilly-Fumé Silex from Didier Dagueneau for $120, about the price you might pay retail? Or a 1983 Cos d’Estournel, a top St.-Estèphe almost 30 years old, for $225? Perhaps, like me, you are a fan of good aged Graves, as we persist in calling white Bordeaux from Pessac-Léognan? You won’t find a better deal than a Domaine de Chevalier 2000 for $170, unless you continue down the list and spot the 2001 Laville Haut-Brion for $220.

Nice Matin won’t rival a wine destination like Veritas for vertical depth of great wines and old vintages, but in what casual neighborhood restaurant will you find La Mission Haut Brion 1970, a very good vintage, for $330, a 1998 Brunello di Montalcino from Soldera for $350 or a 1961 Barolo from Giacomo Conterno, a truly great wine, for $500?

Of course, if you want good value and money is no object, I would be tempted by the 1944 Lafite-Rothschild, harvested just months after D-Day, for $1,600, or the legendary 1865 Latour, from the year Lincoln died and before phylloxera devastated the vines of Europe. What’s $14,000 compared with history?

Outside of the fantasy realm, I, like most people, would gravitate to great affordable bottles, and this is where Nice Matin really comes through. A fresh, lively 2009 Valpolicella from Vaona, one of my favorite producers, is just $36, while a chalky, unusual white 2008 Coenobium, made by nuns at the Monastero Suore Cistercensi in Lazio, is $42. How often do you find a 10-year-old Burgundy for $77, like a 2001 premier cru Savigny-lès-Beaune, from Chandon de Briailles?

And, having taken Mr. Grimes’s point to heart, Nice Matin now fulfills its Provençal promise with perhaps the best list of Bandols and Provençal wines in New York. I would try the excellent, structured ’09 Pradeaux rosé for $52, or, with a selection of 14 vintages, a Bandol red from Château Vannières, like the 2002 for $80.

Great lists don’t just happen overnight. Not long after it opened, Nice Matin made a concerted decision to improve its wine offerings, beginning in 2004 when it bought 25 mixed cases of Bordeaux, Burgundy and German riesling that had once belonged to President John F. Kennedy.

Since then, Nice Matin has bought the cellar of Chanterelle after that restaurant shut down, and part of Country’s after it closed. Meanwhile, the beverage director, Aviram Turgeman, with his associate, Gabriel Richter, prowls through a network of collectors and winery owners, seeking mature older vintages to add to the list.

“I really want people to come and enjoy grand cru Burgundies and first-growth Bordeaux and not break the wallet,” Mr. Turgeman said. “I also want to highlight wines in the $30 and $40 range, because we are a neighborhood restaurant.”

Acquisitions require capital, and Nice Matin, more than many neighborhood restaurants, has resources. Along with other spots, including Café d’Alsace on the Upper East Side, L’Express in the Flatiron district and Marseille in Hell’s Kitchen, Nice Matin is part of theTour de France restaurant group, whose owner, Simon Oren, resolutely supports Mr. Turgeman’s efforts.

“I love wine, I believe in wine, I really, really admire wine,” Mr. Oren said. While he features wine at all his restaurants (and beer at Café d’Alsace), Nice Matin is the group’s vinous flagship.

Lest anyone think Nice Matin is concerned only with trophy bottles, one regular, Carl Schecter, a portfolio manager at a hedge fund who lives nearby, recalled eating at the bar recently. With his three courses, Mr. Turgeman paired a Greek white from Mount Olympus (“Delicious!” Mr. Schecter said), a riesling from Alsace and a Greek red.

“It’s like a wine school, if you want it to be,” Mr. Schecter said.

The annals are replete with stories of great wine lists picked clean after word gets out. But Mr. Oren is confident the Nice Matin list will endure.

“We have good inventory, and we know quite a few people with cellars who are happy to sell to us,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll be able to maintain the list for at least five years.”

The Tangled Vine… THE WINE RUNDOWN

A truly overlooked treasure on the Upper West Side hidden between a row of other more dominating italian restaurants and wine bars, this gem could be considered yet another wine bar that the average passerby probably ponders, “I walk by this place 1000 times and always have wanted to go”.  If you find yourself in this train of thought, then I must say, GO!

Don’t be fooled by it’s small and quaint appearance categorizing it as another ‘traditional wine bar’ as this place offers something special.  First off it could easily live in the West Village as both the food, wine and atmosphere is in par with Vyne, Turks and Frogs (although Turkish, a Tangled Vine could be a nice Italian complement) and a few others but overall it would blend in nicely.  When you walk in although looks coy feels like a party!  Loud, great music, and knowledgable bartenders add to the overall spirit of the wine bar and make this place a great after work happy hour spot, early dinner turned into late evening of after dinner drinks and laughs and a casual 2nd date spot.  Also definitely going on my list for wine bars i’d rather sit at the bar with wine and bites vs. at a table.

Enjoying ourselves at the bar, we went straight to the wine list which I would categorize as an “easy read” since it serves as a great “guide” to the wines they offer per glass and bottle.  It is organized by grape variety which makes it easy to quickly flip to what you are in the mood for – red, rose and/or white.  After each glass listed, it has a brief description with non-intimidating wine words that tells you exactly what to expect. It almost forms a story of the wine for you to make the wine decision that much easier and enjoyable.  Something that I have yet to see throughout my NYC wine bar ‘journey’ is their offering of ‘Wine Trios’ that offer “variety of different wine trios, grouped for comparison between grapes, regions, or winemaking styles. Each glass is a 2oz serving, for a total of 6oz of wine in each flight. All of the trios come with optional food pairings in tasting-sized portions, a traditional service found in European cafés.”  This presented a great way for people to explore wines and spirits in an organized style. Another fun element to their list are their “rules” that they present to you when you first open the wine list to get you and your party EXCITED and ready to DRINK!


• Every wine on this list is here for a reason. Either it‘s got great taste, historical vineyards or honest winemaking to its name. Ideally all three.

• We are a European wine bar focusing on the old world and old vines, primarily from the historical wine producing regions of the Mediterranean.

• We concentrate on small grower-producers or vintners who practice organic, biodynamic and sustainable viticulture, resulting in natural, un-manipulated, and above all, DELICIOUS wines.

• Don‘t just drink what you know; drink what you don‘t.

• Wine without food is always a pleasure, but wine with great food is a sheer delight. Now eat something, you look hungry.

After getting acquainted it was time to pick our glasses of choice! We went for a French white wine that was crisp with hints of peach and apricot with lots of acidity a bit of tannin and a nice after taste of citrus. A nicely balanced wine.  It was a very easy drinking wine that you could bring to an outdoor picnic and drink for hours..  Actually, remember how addicting and easy to eat Fruit Roll-ups were?  A certain someone I was with described the taste as “An old-school apricot fruit roll-up…” and loved every bit of it!  Guess who! The wine:  Anjou Blanc “Cuvee les Rangs de Long” Château Soucherie 2010

To end our night we ventured to the after dinner drinks and since I’ve been very into spanish wines, ordered two Oloroso Sherry’s for us to try which we accompanied with the Pan con Chocolate; Belgian chocolate, Maldon salt, Arbequina olive oil.  Both the drink and dessert fused nicely together as it was the perfect sweet and salty treat!  It was very tasty and afterwards we both felt relaxed and were put into a magical trance for the rest of the night!

Overall, a highly recommended wine bar for a casual night of food, wine, music, and relaxation.  Check out their website for their Monday deals and Happy Hour details!  Enjoy!

High Line To Serve Beer & Wine This Summer!

What a great Cinco de Mayo present!  Get ready for summer sipping outside in the open whilst enjoying magnificant views of Manhattan on the High Line!  Beer and Wine will now be served!  See full article from by Tara Kyle below for more details!

High Line Clears Hurdle to Serve Beer and Wine

CHELSEA — Get ready for a cold brew on the High Line — the elevated park’s plan to offer beer and wine at two locations this summer received the support of Community Board 4 Wednesday night.

This summer, Friends of the High Line plan to serve up alcohol on the Chelsea Market Passage, located above Tenth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, and at street level beneath the soon-to-open second sections northern tip, located between 29th and 30th Streets near Tenth Avenue.

The latter, by far the larger of the two operations with a total capacity of 400, attracted more reservations from the board, but still passed with a majority vote.

Assuming the State Liquor Authority signs off on the application, Friends of the High Line would place two bars underneath the northern tip of the elevated rail line, in a space shared with family-friendly activities that may include movie screenings, live music and a roller rink.

Part of the goal is to bring life to a long desolate section of the neighborhood, organizers said.

“We want to help nascent businesses in northern Chelsea thrive,” said Friends of the High Line co-founder Joshua David. “When you got to 30th Street on the High Line, you didn’t want to go down on the street.”

Several neighbors in that area, including Sean Kelly Gallery director Maureen Bray, spoke out in favor of the application in the hopes that it would bring more revenue to surrounding blocks.

Prices offered for meals in the area will likely run between $2-$7 per person, with beer and wine options priced at $7-8 a glass, according to Friends of the High Line Director of Food Melina Shannon-DiPietro. Colicchio & Sons will manage the operation.

Fifteen blocks south above Chelsea Market, the space for beer, wine and food above Chelsea Market has a capacity of just 40.

The High Line has not yet announced its choice of food vendors, but will do so in the coming weeks.

Read more:


WINE SPOT - Wine Bar . Tapas . Cheese – 127 Macdougal St. NY, NY

I went to ‘Wine Spot’ the other night to try out this tiny wine bar in the West Village with a few BFF’s!  The entrance was super cute with a lit up sign and tea lighted lanterns on brick stairs leading you underground into the bar.  Since it’s below Tea Spot it seemed like sort of a “blind driveway” type of bar where it can be easily missed and overlooked.  The tiny “self seated” wine bar is a true wine bar with mini bites, tapas, cheese plates and a small list of select wines along with wine flights.  It had a sort of Tuscan or French provenance feel to it through the wooden decor with red accents and a “candlelit” fireplace.  Unfortunately, it was extremely hot as the AC was broken however, we made the best of the situation and still had a great time.  On the “bites” menu the cheeses match what you are drinking “red plate” or “white plate” which makes it easy to order off of since you don’t have to select the cheeses yourself.

As for the wine, they have a great wine flight menu that features three regions all having 4 wines within each region.  The regions they cover are Spain, California, and Italy.  The wine selections are very unique yet affordable and seemed to cover the regions well through the selection. The regular wine menu had yet more great wine selections from an array of areas that look to have been very carefully picked to be on that wine list.  The prices are very reasonable and they definitely have a heavy hand when pouring so you get the most for your buck!

The one thing that was a negative to us was that the waitress didn’t really know what to recommend when we described what we were looking for.  For a wine bar, that is a major turn off as we are going there to learn and sip on great wines! Regardless we went with a nice white Sauvignon Blanc from Woolaston, New Zealand.  This was a nicely crisp and semi-sweet wine that was refreshing and cooled us off!

Overall, a very cute wine bar that we all thought would be great for a late night glass of wine and drink after a date or party when you need that extra glass before going home!  It is also apart of the “New Wine University” so they have tasting events/lessons all the time which is another great time to go here!

Bocca di Bacco… Wine on Tap!

Bocca di Bacco…. My go to wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen.  With an amazing atmosphere resembling a traditional and authentic italian wine bar, this diamond in the rough attracts the trendy West Villager’s along with the sophisticated Upper West Sider’s…  With wine barrels hanging from the wall, bottles of wine outlining every corner, and dim lighting, Bocca di Bacco is a great after work, relaxing wine spot where sitting at the bar splitting dishes and a bottle of wine is VERY enjoyable and casual!

At the bar the bartender was lovely and very helpful!  There are about 40 wines to choose from here (all italian) with small complementing assorted bites from an array of cheeses, meats, olives, and nibbles. They have an incredibly extensive Italian wine list where you can order many by the glass of 1/2 glass.

What I really love about BdB is that the majority of their wines are on tap which makes it easy to taste wines before ordering and always promises a fresh glass – you never risk getting a ‘corked’ glass! Phew!  I actually had a corked glass the other night, I thought I wouldn’t realize it even if I did… but I did – you can’t help but smell that strong moldy/corky smell in your glass – if this should happen – this is a case where you send your glass back without feeling bad about it!

So overall, a simple yet classic wine bar that is worth the venture over to Hell’s Kitch for!


FishTag is a wonderful very fresh seafood restaurant on the Upper West Side.  The great thing about the menu is that it is coded by wine types.  The wine list had wines listed under categories and on the menu specified what “category” went with what dish/appetizer so we didn’t even have to think twice about what we were pairing our wines with – it was spelled out for you!  But I am not a food critic my love is for wine, so onto the good stuff!!

Just to start, I loved the wine glasses they had as they had little tags carved into them. Get it – Fish TAG.  I liked it! I tried to capture it below but it’s a little unclear…

We started off with a sweeter wine that was very “florally” in smell and taste.  Bodega Colome Torrontes 2008, White Wine, Argentina, South America. It had a grapefruit, lemon, light mineral, lavender, and even a little honeysuckle taste to it which was pleasant to sip on with our assortment of cheeses prior to our meal.  A very bright wine that you can only have a glass or two of.

We then switched to something our palates would really react to, a white that was on the other end of the spectrum and provided a major shock value to our taste buds which we needed after the sweeter floral sipping wine.  We enjoyed a 2009 Spyros Hatziyiannis Assyrtiko (Greece, Aegean, Santorini) which was a bolder wine and much more “minerally” so we really experienced a nice full bodied, more acidic wine to enjoy with our main course (fish, Lamb Burger, roasted salmon etc…)  Not only did we enjoy this wine but our “sommelier” told a wonderful story of how grapes are grown in Santorini seeing as the climate is windy and hot!  (Love the place but clueless when it comes to their wines!)!  Oh ya and shout out to my greek momma – Demi! Dem – if you have other suggestions please share!

A little history:  Basically the Asyrtiko is a white Greek wine grape home to the island of Santorini  Despite weather conditions as I mentioned  the grapes survives and actually thrives due to the traditional “koulara,” a grape growing method that weaves the vine into a basket allowing the grapes to grow on the inside covered by the vine’s foliage and are protected from the harsh outside conditions. Vines are generally woven until yields are considered too low and nutrients to scare (around age 70) and are then clipped at their roots. A new vine is then grown onto the existing rootstock. This is important because the existing vines roots have grown deep into the soil to obtain the moisture stored in the pumice soils from the morning mists. [CellarTracker Integrated Wiki]

So overall, a great restaurant and a wine list that is very easy to navigate with a variety of interesting regions!  Great for double dates :)

Another “drink” definition I was made aware of that night (not at FT) was – SNAKEBITE – Half Beer/Half Cider..

FOOD & WINE Magazine’s Top Unconventional Wine Bar Picks Around the Country

Check out some really interesting wine bars from FOOD & WINE Magazine that stray from the  traditional. For New Yorkers, check out By the Ounce at Bouley Bakery.  Wines are sold by the ounce, the half-glass and glass. Elegant finger foods to compliment the wine are available such as charcuterie, cheeses and caviar, and of course are all sold by the ounce: 120 West Broadway (Duane Street), (917) 237-3207.

Wine Bars 2.0

Bookstores and coffee shops have become great places to taste wine, and restaurants are offering their own new ways to tap into wine trends.

By Emily Kaiser, Jen Murphy

The New Tasting Rooms

These unconventional wine bars appeal to connoisseurs of all kinds, from beer geeks to artisanal-cheese fanatics to book lovers.

Bouley Bakery.Bouley Bakery. Photo © Nicole Bartelme. 


This hip new bar puts equal emphasis on small-production beers and wines.


A favorite of David Sedaris’s, this cult bookstore added a wine bar to pay homage to a literary society that drank there in the 1930s.


David Bouley now turns his stellar bakery into a wine bar at night, with pours in amounts as small as an ounce. To eat: a great cheese selection.


This excellent micro-roaster’s first café serves flights of rare coffees, as well as wines selected by former Herbfarm sommelier Tysan Dutta.

Where to Get Wine on Tap

Wine KegsPhoto © Two Urban Licks 


The restaurant stores its entire list of more than 40 American wines in stainless steel kegs.


Sang Yoon sells both wine and beer on draft at the Culver City branch of his beer-centric bar and restaurant.


The eco-conscious new Jack London Square restaurant serves more than half of its locally driven wine list from kegs.


Melissa Perello’s new restaurant sells two house wines on tap, custom-blended by California’s Core Wine Company.

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