When Beet, a new Thai restaurant on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, opened without a wine or liquor license, the nearby Prospect Wine Shop created a Thai-food-friendly wine list—filled with moderately sweet Rieslings, dry unoaked whites, fruity reds, and other spice-compatible wines—for people to purchase on the way to the restaurant. “It was a challenge: which of our wines went well with Thai,” said manager Amy Louise Pommier. “We found a list that fits the restaurant and fits the neighborhood and fits the food.”
Such collaborations are bringing new meaning to the timeless, essential, affair between alcohol and food, as restaurants get some help in designing wine lists, creating cocktails, and hosting wine dinners. This spring, Blanc & Rouge on Washington Street in DUMBO will arrange tastings of desserts and dessert wines with neighboring Almondine. “First of all, for us, it’s fun,” said owner Josh Cohen. “And dessert wine as a category isn’t as popular or understood as dry wines or table wines. So it helps build relationships.”
Customers don’t seem to mind either. In Carroll Gardens, wine shop Smith & Vine and Patois Restaurant recently announced a series of wine seminars that include a five-course luncheon. For $55 (plus tax and tip), each Saturday meal includes a guided sampling of 10 wines from the world’s major wine regions. The response has been so strong that Smith & Vine also launched a series of in-home wine and cooking seminars in collaboration with Mychefdirect.com, a private chef and catering company.
For Earth Day, LeNell’s Wine and Spirit Boutique in Red Hook encourages customers to sample organic wines that are also served at nearby restaurant 360, and to book a table there. For another promo, owner LeNell Smothers offered free dessert wines to everyone who ordered dessert at nearby Schnack, which has provided ribs for in store bourbon tastings. (LeNell’s has the largest bourbon selection in New York). Nearby Added Value urban farm, which works with youth to grow produce in raised beds, has provided vegetables to accompany wine tastings, while El Huipil, a Mexican restaurant around the corner, cooked the food to accompany a tequila tasting and patrons were encouraged to bring their liquor receipt to get a discount at dinner. Says Smothers, “We do it as a neighborly thing.”
Editor’s note: Patois, LeNell’s, Schnack and El Huipil have closed.