How to Enjoy RAW WINE New York for a Week…and Beyond

Hey, it’s time for RAW WINE New York! It’s the renowned natural wine fair created and organized by Isabelle Legeron MW, taking place again in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s like natty wine’s prom, Super Bowl, and college reunion all rolled into one. If you can make it to the event Sunday or Monday (11/4 and 11/5), that’s awesome! I’ll be there the former day via a comped press pass. As you can see in the photo below, it gets kinda crazy packed.

RAW Wine New York / Photo by Katie June Burton

Besides the big ol’ tasting at RAW WINE New York, there are some pretty cool seminars, too. Whoops, I mean Speakers’ Corner events. “Seminars” sounds very dull and un-natural. If you’re there, step away from the tasting tables and grab a dang chair for these natty brain morsels:

11:30-12:30 What’s a pet nat and why should I drink it?

1:00-2:00 Montréal – A Taste Journey

2:30-3:30 Natural Wine 101

4:00-5:00 Cider 101: more like beer or more like wine?

But what if you’re spending Sunday watching football and drinking beer? Or doing hot yoga then eating donuts? Hiking? Going to IKEA and afterwards putting together a dang cabinet-type thing? And you have to go to work on Monday? OH NOS!!!

Fortunately, there are events going on all week in New York. It’s #rawwineweek y’all. Which is actually TWO weeks, from October 31st to November 14th. Why? Because the LA edition of RAW is November 11th and 12th. So there’s a lot of bi-coastal natty nuttiness. (Also the fair in Montreal is 11/1.)

I’m not going to list ALL the events here in NYC, just the ones that I am particularly excited about because of the venue, the wines, the people, or a combo of all three. (Here’s the complete lineup, FYI.)

Suggested RAW WINE New York Events

Swick Wines 

I’m confident Joe Swick is the only natty winemaker who is equal parts Michael Bolton and Michael McDonald fan. Swick Wines are made from Oregon and Washington grapes with out-there blends and lesser-known grapes. Like Touriga Nacional. Ok, he does Pinot Noir and you’ve heard of that. Some of his wines are also creatively named. Like, “Wyd, U up?”

Find Joe and his bottles at Wine Therapy 11/1 at 6pm and at Thirst Wine Merchants 11/18 (ok, #rawwineweek is more than two weeks long) from 3-5pm. (Sidebar: Thirst has really cool custom wine shelving.)

Anyway, Joe, this is for you:

Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Compangie is a classy, dark-ish, plush, couch-y/chair-y spot with a very nice bar. They are putting on a few wine boot camps that sound cool: Drinking RAW WINE in the USA on 11/1, Let’s Talk About Farming on the 6th, and Pet-Nats on the 12th. Each class has a 6 and 7:30 time slot but check with Compagnie to see what’s available.

Dandelion Wine

This is a great shop in my beloved neighborhood of Greenpoint. Head to Dandy for a tasting of Purity Wine with Noel Diaz, who makes wines from grapes in California’s Sierra Foothills, on 11/2 from 6 to 8.

Two Shepherds

I’ve known William from Two Shepherds for years now and his wines keep getting better and better and they were pretty damn good to start with. Most recently I had his 2017 Carbonic Carignan “Wiley” (named after a cat and with felines on the label…hey, remember this cat wine?) and it was a chillable, chuggable red. YUM! Find him at Whet Whistle 11/2 from 6-8 and the next night (11/3) from 6-7:30 at Winey Neighbor.

Ruffian 

This narrow, cozy space in the East Village is a new favorite. I love tiny bars! There’s a BTG takeover on 11/7 from 6pm to midnight, featuring the wares of Winemonger. Get a stool at 5:59.

Delinquente Wine Co

I am a huge fan of Delinquente. The first time I had their stuff was at Somm Time, falling for a Nero d’Avola rosé from…South Australia!!! Then I tried a Pet-Nat made from…Bianco d’Alessano?!? WTF!?! It was a fizzy, refreshing delight. So Delinquente’s deal is Southern Italian grapes coming from South Australia. Dime a dozen wineries doing that, right? Find winemaker Con-Greg Grigorou at Corkscrew Wines 11/3 from 5-7, at a fried chicken dinner at Grindhaus 11/5 8pm, and another dinner at Uncle Chop Chop the next night (11/6) at 7pm.

The Ten Bells

It will be loud, packed, and you probably will stay too late. This natty wine bar in the LES is celebrating 11/3, 11/4, and 11/5 from 8pm to “very late.” You will see lots of winemakers here for sure.

Ops

I love Ops so much!!! TLA! It’s a charming pizza place with literally tiny menus, natty wines but no list, and the square pizza is amazing. They are having a day one (Sunday) afterparty with Zev Rovine Selections from 7-11. Noel from Purity will be there 11/6 starting at 7.

June Wine Bar

Speaking of places I love, June is such a gorgeous spot and this wine bar serves some of the best food in the city. Like Ops, they have a great brunch, too. Check out Cabin Wine with Super Glou. It will be your first chance to taste wines from this portfolio, so go and get your bragging rights from 5-7 on 11/7. (Sidebar: Super Glou is an amazing name for a wine and spirits importer/distributor on so many levels.)

Racines NY 

Stop by and Eat/Clink/Drink with Pascaline Lepeltier MS (who is managing partner and sommelier at Racines) and Alice Feiring (wine writer…and beyond…extraordinaire). Winemakers, wine flights, wine pairings, and a special prix fixe menu are all available. (But you can just chill at the bar, yo.) Starting at 6pm on 11/4.

Henry’s Wine & Spirit

If you are at RAW WINE New York, stop by Henry’s. This retail shop is like a 15 minute walk, no excuses. You’ll get 10% off any purchase with your wristband on the 4th and 5th and they stock bottles from a lot of the producers pouring at RAW.

Finally, what if you don’t live in Montreal, New York, LA and can’t go to RAW WINE? Explore the Wines and People & Places sections of the dang website. Learn yourself some natty wine, for real! Then go forth and demand satisfaction from your vino merchants and local restos. THE END.

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Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

While on a trip to Ireland with my mom (and about two dozen other folks) we toured around via bus. The itinerary was flexible enough that I got to explore on my own. So I used a few pockets of time to check out two Dublin wine bars. (Thanks to Lauren Mowery for the intel.)

Loose Canon Wine & Cheese / Photo via Loose Cannon FB Page

A Duo of Dublin Wine Bars

Loose Canon Wine & Cheese

Spot number one was Loose Canon. Ok, it’s a cheese shop. But I’m calling it a dang wine bar, sue me! During the day, they sell cheese and bottles. At night, they pour a few select reds and whites and one skin contact wine. It’s standing room only and you can also (of course) order some cheese and cured meats. They focus on natural wines.

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to VisitMy first visit was at night right before closing, so I had time for one glass. I went for the 2016 Testalonga El Bandito Cortez, a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Cool label, huh?

But I had a sad face because I didn’t get to sample any food. So next time I came back earlier in the evening for three of my favorite food groups: meat, cheese, bread. (Bonus: fruit!).

How about some toast, cheese, plums, olive oil drizzle? Yes, please. I accompanied the dish with a glass of Ottavo Bianco from Piedmont in Italy, perfect pairing.

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

The coppa came on a separate plate, and I refrained from eating it all until I could get a glass of red.

[SIDEBAR: These are very nice plates, I wish I could have taken them home. But I left them behind, like a law-abiding, non-awful human being. Of course, I could have asked where I might purchase such fine and finely-hued dishes.]

My patience was rewarded with a glass of Fins Als Kullions, a chilled red (and white) blend from Penedès, Spain. This is an ideal wine with cured meats.

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

Take Me To Your Liter

And you know I love me a 1L bottle.

But like a glass of wine, when it comes to Dublin wine bars sometimes one is just not enough. So I also checked out the ultra-charming Piglet.

It was on my list, but I actually went there because on my first visit to Loose Cano, they weren’t serving wine yet. So I asked the person working there where I should go. Did I mind walking? Of course not. Head to Piglet, she said.

I strolled on, embracing a new adventure.

Piglet Wine Bar

I love tiny bars! Piglet has a nice patio, but I migrated to the inside where there are maybe a half-dozen bar stools. Head upstairs for very cozy table seating that makes you feel like all the cares of the outside world are a light year or two away.

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

Pull up a chair. / Photo via Piglet’s website

Piglet has a really great by-the-glass list. And the bottle selection is excellent, too. There are plenty of magnums to choose from for your party-starting needs. The food looks incredible but, alas, I was in recent post-lunch mode. But, hey, let’s try some wine.

Chateau Dereszla Tokaji Dry 2016

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to VisitI was so grateful for the sweater weather in Ireland after some extremely oppressive days/weeks/month of soul-crushing heat/humidity in New York. Cooler temps also means time for richer white wines, and the Chateau Dereszla did not disappoint.

It’s a blend of Furmint (85%), Muskotály (5%) , Kabar (3%), and Hárslevelű (7%). Fifteen percent of the wine spends time in oak barrels.

I then shifted gears to a fantastic Austrian red.

Arndorfer Vorgeschmack Red 2016

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to VisitThe Arndorfer is a blend of 80% Zweigelt 20% Pinot Noir. It’s got a touch of smoke, a few virtual grinds of black pepper, and a blackberry-esque finish.

A great all-purpose red, I don’t think there is any food that wouldn’t love being next to it. They would be swiping right on each other, etc. Austrian red wines are very underrated. Highly recommend exploring Zweigelt as a starting point.

Ooh, I almost forgot to show you the inside. Let’s take a look, ok?

Dublin Wine Bars: Two to Visit

Tiny bars forever. / “Pigture” via Piglet’s website

So while Guinness and Jameson (the whiskey, not me!) may be foremost on your mind, don’t forget to visit a few Dublin wine bars. I’ve just scratched the surface but you can’t go wrong with either of these memorable spots.

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Go to Ruffian in the East Village if You Love Wine and Food

There’s nothing I love more than tiny places and there are a few in the East Village I adore. One is Ruffian wine bar. It’s an extremely narrow spot specializing in natural wine. They also crank out some great food behind the bar in the tiniest square footage.

It also reminds me that some of my favorite places to eat in New York are wine bars. Even if I wasn’t a wine drinker (LOL), I’d go for the food at places like Ruffian. June in Brooklyn also comes to mind.

My wine modeling career will never make me a rich man, but I can tell you about this intriguing bottle at Ruffian wine bar.

Anne & Jean-François Ganevat Vin de France J’en Veux Encore*

From a beloved producer in wine hipster HQ, France’s Jura region, it’s a blend of 70% Gamay and 30% Trousseau. Importer Kermit Lynch has the story about this and other Gavenat wines with the Vin de France designation:

After consecutive vintages of losing large portions of his harvest, Jean-François was forced to innovate to make more wine. In partnership with his sister Anne, he went to friends in Alsace, Beaujolais, and Savoie to source more fruit. Anne and Jean-François even went so far as to purchase vines in the Beaujolais. Each Vin de France cuvée is a blend of estate fruit from the Jura and purchased (or estate) fruit from another region, thus allowing Jean-François to apply his savoir-faire in winemaking with indigenous grape varieties from the Jura to create a new and unique line of wines. All of the vineyards contributing to this project are farmed organically.

Not surprisingly, this wine drinks like a Beaujolais with a little bit of funk you might expect from a natural wine.

Another interesting wine I tried was a Cinsault from Lebanon. Truth be told, the only Lebanese wines I’ve had were from Chateau Musar. Though if you are only going to try one winery from Lebanon, you can’t go wrong with Musar. Meeting winemaker Serge Hochar was a highlight of my career, and you can read about that experience and my tribute to him here.

Domaine de Tourelles 2015 Cinsault Vielles Vignes (Bekka Valley)

Go to Ruffian in the East Village if You Love Wine and Food

This wine from Domaine des Tourelles was a nice follow-up to the Ganevat. Made from over 50-year-old Cinsault vines, it’s fermented in concrete tanks using wild yeast. I’m used to seeing Cinsault as part of a blend for reds and rosés so it’s great to try an old-vine version from Lebanon that shines as the star of the show.

*I WANT MORE!

_____

This month Ruffian wine bar is taking a page/pages out of Homer’s Odyssey. Try wines from countries mentioned in the epic and get a passport stamp for each one. (Think Mallorca, Sicily, Crete, Turkey, Sardinia, and Greece.)  Submit your completed passport for a chance to win a cool bottle. There’s also a lamb feast to share and a special Wine-Dark Sea cocktail made from tea-infused vermouth, red wine from Georgia (the country), and cherry syrup.

Here’s a nice little passage and an article from the NY Times about The Odyssey and wine:

[I]t is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the man to dancing…it even
tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.

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Rouletabulle is Chasselas Plus Fizz

When in Brooklyn at Williamsburg’s The Four Horsemen, it’s a guarantee that something unusual and unexpected will end up in your wine glass. Case in point? Check out this bottle from my most recent visit. A sojourn notable for getting to hang out with Jeremy Parzen of Do Bianchi, who was in town for an Italian wine conference. I highly recommend checking out Jeremy’s wine (and more) blog.

Eric Texier Rouletabulle 2014

This wine is notable because it’s from the Southern Rhone and is somehow made (mostly) from Chasselas. I’ve had a wine from Alsace (on the German border) made from this grape, and its pretty common in Switzerland. But I had no idea you’d encounter Chasselas so far south in France. Pretty cool. Additionally, Rouletabulle is a pét-nat. A wine kind of like alcoholic Fresca*. It’s fun and fizzy. What more do you want in your glass while catching up with a friend you haven’t seen for a few years?

Listen to my podcast that goes deep into Pét-Nat.

Stay tuned for wine number two from that evening.

(OK, and there was a third wine but I didn’t take a photo of it so it didn’t happen.)

*Sadly, I cannot take credit for this apt phrase for describing the delights of Pét-Nat.

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