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

Il Baretto – The Wine Rundown!

Nestled between ‘dealership row’ on 11th Ave, lay a casual yet authentic wine bar straight out of Italia overlooking De Witt Clinton Park. Who would’ve thought in the midst of Mercedes Benz and BMW you’d come across such a hidden gem of a wine bar.  From the same owner of the delicious Italian meal Il Melograno, Il Baretto is an undercover gem that is “off the beaten path” where small plates of assorted cheeses, creative panini’s and generous selection of meats and fruits can be sampled and tasted with their magnificent array of Italian wines.

It was a cold night in Hell’s Kitchen and my fiancé and I decided to experiment and venture away from our standard Italian favorites, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Chianti Classico and submerged ourselves into a new, taste inspiring red wine from Sicily, Santa Anastasia Nero D’Avola.  A reasonably priced bottle $34 and glass $10, moving out of our confort zone was a wise choice as we tasted a burst of flavor with smooth tannins that went well with our small bites!  It was a very classic style of Italian wine yet had a modern touch which made it very well structured and easier to drink than some of the heavier Italian wines.

So if you’re ever in the neighborhood looking for a causal wine bar that will take you out of the City and into the heart of Sicily’s northern coastline, Il Barretto is your gem!

Enjoy!

Saving the best for last….

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!

RULES WE LIVE (AND DRINK) BY

• 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!

WINE SPOT NYC- THE WINE RUNDOWN

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!

Whole Foods Serving Beer & Wine…

Whole Foods is starting to implement an actual bar into their consumer grocery shopping experience!  As of now it has only been active in a few locations – Arizona, Illinois, Texas.. but they plan to spread into all 305 stores!  I don’t know about you but I would love to stop for a glass of wine to break up my grocery shopping especially if the lines are long!  I just hope shoppers don’t take this for granted where it gets too rowdy but take it for what it is; a pleasurable addition to the food shopping experience.  I hope this test turns into a real success and hurries to NYC!  Read the full article here:  ”Whole Foods tests bars selling craft beer and local wine in its stores

What do you all think????

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