Cool Wine Shop Alert: Forêt in Ridgewood, Queens

I’ve been spending more time in Ridgewood now that a very good friend lives there. If you find yourself in this part of Queens and are thirsting for some natural (“natty”) bottles, check out Forêt Wines.

Two visits in and its got all the things I like about a wine shop: small, charming, eclectic yet somehow focused. A selection that’s a reflection of the proprietor. Speaking of, that would be Marie Tribouilloy. She’s a co-owner of Ops in Bushwick, one of my favorite pizza spots. (It’s got lots of natty wine served w/o a list. You just say what you want to drink and someone will bring you a few things until you and a wine click. Though they usually nail it on the first taste.)

A duo of bottles I picked up were both aces. The first was a Meinklang Gruner Veltliner. Bottled with a screw cap, it is tailor-made for a BYOB spot. The red was more serious, with some body and heft: Simon Busser Pure Cot 2016. Cot* is what the French call Malbec. If all you have been exposed to is versions from Argentina, buckle up. Because this is a much different ride. Honestly this is probably the first Cot I’ve had from the Cahors area in quite a while. (This wine is a Vin de France so there must be a reason it’s not appellation labeled but the Cahors region is Busser’s stomping grounds.**) Most I’ve drank have been from the Loire Valley, and on the lighter side.

With these two bottles at dinner, normally I hit the white until it’s gone then begrudgingly shift to red. But after pouring a splash of Pure Cot, I went back to the red wine well again and again. Usually I don’t care for full-bodied wines but this one was voluminous in a totally compelling way. Juicy, fruity, complex, long fresh finish. Damn!

Anyway, if a wine shop can pick out a bottle like that for you, it is gold. (My mandate was full-bodied red and “unlimited budget.” I really did say the latter but I mean my idea of unlimited is like over $20 and under $50.) So check out Forêt Wines the next time you are in Ridgewood. I take the L to Myrtle and stroll there but you can also take the M to Forest. Or research bus routes. Ride share. Bicycle. Walk. Teleport, etc.

For more on Forêt Wines, check out Grubstreet and Bushwick Daily. Also it’s right next to Sundown, a lovely space of a bar. And my friend is one of the owners. So go have a cocktail/beer/wine and then buy a bottle next door. Or vice-versa.

*JR says with or w/o the circumflex. So there. I do like the hat on the “o” of “Côt.”

**Astor Wines has an explanation.

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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.


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.


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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The Dirty Guide, Vermont Book Events!


There are quite a few coming next week to lovely Vermont 



Don't yet have the book? There's a remedy for that

Sunday, August 20th with La Pascaline Lepeltier at La Garagista with Deidre and Caleb. (I believe this is sold out, but you can get on the wait list.)

Tuesday, August 21st at Sparkling Vermont   in Middlebury, come to the next edition of the Dead or Alive tasting. Can you spot the commercial but highly touted champagne among the lineup of lovelies? Call for the details, 802 989 7020. 

Wednesday, August 22 at  Cork Wine Bar in Waterbury. Call for details. 802) 882-8227


TTP wants to put more, not less, into your wines

Elaine Brown alerted to me about a petition that had just gone up on the TTB site.

I went right to it. The document is dense. It is complicated. And it is stunning.

Now when industry is using less, big wine wants to use more. The TTB should understand that commercial wine and real wine need different governance. If people buy wine in the supermarket they can expect flavorings. If buying what they consider fine wine, then that category should offer the consumer some protections.

Most of the petitions have been requested by Gusmer Industries, a sales and wine consultancy that has been invaluable to me to find out what is the latest on wine manipulations. They are particularly interested in increasing the nutrients as well as the maximum dosage of additions.

There are also proposed changes to wine processing, and a special request by Constellation Brands.  

I've tried to provide a cheat sheet. Please head to the website for a complete distillation, and if you don't think the amount of gum arabic, biotin, niacin, PVP, chitosan should be increased or even allowed, please speak up. 

Acacia (gum arabic): TTB is proposing to authorize a maximum use rate of 8 pounds of acacia per 1,000 gallons (1.92 grams per Liter (g/L)) of wine in the list of authorized wine and juice treating materials in § 24.246. Acacia is currently listed in § 24.246 as an authorized treating material to clarify and stabilize wine, subject to a limitation that its use shall not exceed 2 pounds per 1,000 gallons (0.24 g/L) of wine

This category has a limit of one percent acacia gum (rather than 2 percent); the functional effects for this category match TTB's uses as clarifying and stabilizing wine. TTB is correcting this mistake in this rulemaking by proposing to increase the maximum use rate of acacia gum in wine to 8 pounds per 1,000 gallons of wine. TTB's earlier administrative approvals authorizing the use of acacia at levels greater than 8 pounds per 1,000 gallons of wine are revoked.

Potato protein isolates: as a fining agent. 

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose: to stabilize wine from tartrate precipitation at a level not to exceed 0.8 percent of the wine.

Chitosan: TTB is proposing to add chitosan from Aspergillus niger, at a use rate not to exceed 10 grams per 100 liters of wine, to the list of approved wine and juice treating materials contained in § 24.246. TTB administratively approved several industry member requests to use chitosan from Aspergillus niger to remove spoilage organisms, such as Brettanomyces, from wine.  

*** Chitosan previously used has been derived from crab shells, this Aspergillus niger is responsible for what we know as black mold. 

 Inositol (myo-inositol): TTB is proposing to add inositol to the list of authorized wine and juice treating materials in § 24.246 to be used as a yeast nutrient at a use rate not to exceed 2 ppm.

Polyvinyl-pyrrolidone (PVP)/polyvinylimadazole (PVI) polymer: wine treating material to be used for clarifying and stabilizing alcohol beverages. According to FDA FCN No. 320, the blend “is intended to be added directly to alcoholic beverages during the maturation process . . . is to be completely removed by filtration . . . and is limited to single use applications.” The amount must not exceed 80 grams per 100 liters of wine.

L(+) tartaric acid: TTB administratively approved several industry member requests to use L(+) tartaric acid, prepared using an enzyme from immobilized Rhodococcus ruber cells, to correct natural acid deficiencies and to reduce pH when ameliorating material is used in the production of grape wine.

The list of SIX new nutrients Gusmer wants added

Bakers yeast mannoprotein: TTB administratively approved the use of bakers yeast mannoprotein to stabilize wine from the precipitation of potassium bitartrate crystals,

Beta-glucanase: TTB is proposing to add beta-glucanase, at a use rate of 30 parts per million (ppm) of wine, to the list of approved wine and juice treating materials contained in § 24.246.

Biotin: The Gusmer petition proposed a maximum use rate for biotin of 25 ppb.

Calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5):  TTB administratively approved an industry member's request to use calcium pantothenate as a yeast nutrient in the production of wine.

Folic acid: TTB is proposing to add folic acid to the list of authorized wine and juice treating materials in § 24.246 for use as a yeast nutrient at a use rate not to exceed 100 ppb.

Magnesium sulfate:  Nutrient

Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6):  Nutrient



Both nanofiltration and ultrafiltration are capable of reducing alcohol content in wine, and this proposed liberalization will provide industry members with more tools to reduce the alcohol content of wine.


TTB administratively approved several requests to use reverse osmosis in combination with osmotic transport to reduce the ethyl alcohol content in wine.


In two separate requests, an industry member requested to use ultrafiltration to separate red grape juice into high and low color fractions for blending purposes, and to separate white grape juice that had darkened due to oxidation during storage into high and low color fractions for blending purposes.


 TTB is authorizing the use of toasted wood in this proposal. Section 24.185(b) would state TTB's position on the use of wood essences and extracts in the production of wine.

TTB is also proposing to remove the last sentence from § 24.225 (“Wooden storage tanks used for the addition of spirits may be used for the baking of wine”) and include it in the new § 24.185, and to remove the reference to oak chips from § 24.246 and include it in new § 24.185, in an effort to maintain in one location all regulatory provisions pertaining to the treatment of wine with wood.



Accidental? This is really funny. It's illegal to add water to wine but everyone uses "Jesus Juice" to bring down the alcohol. How do you drop tons of water into the tank by accident? Or is this just another way to increase sales of Reverse Osmosis?

TTB has approved the use of reverse osmosis and distillation to remove water from wine under TTB's authority in § 24.249. In those reviews, TTB considered how the accidental water addition occurred, the ratio of water to wine, and whether or not the requesting industry member has submitted similar requests in the past. TTB applied the following conditions to those approvals. The industry member must:

  • Return the wine to its original condition;
  • Transfer the wine to and from the distilled spirits plant for treatment in bond;
  • Not remove more water than was accidentally added;
  • Not alter the vinous character of the wine; and
  • Keep the usual and customary records of the processing.

TTB believes that proprietors should have the authority to remove small amounts of accidentally added water from wine using reverse osmosis and distillation without first seeking TTB approval. 



Other Issues for Public Comment and Possible Regulatory Action

++Reverse Osmosis To Enhance the Phenol Flavor and Characteristics of Wine and To Reduce the Water Content of Standard Wine


TTB has not received other requests from industry members to use reverse osmosis to improve the phenol and flavor character of wine. However, TTB did receive a request to use reverse osmosis to improve the “sensory quality” of finished wines and to evaluate the potential sensory benefit of water content reduction compared to the resultant loss of volume.


If you believe that the use of reverse osmosis for these purposes is consistent with good commercial practice, your comments should explain your position in detail, as well as provide guidelines/standards concerning how much water (maximum percentage) may be removed. If you believe that the use of reverse osmosis for these purposes is not consistent with good commercial practice, your comments should explain your position in detail.




  • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal:You may send comments via the online comment form linked to this document in Docket No. TTB-2016-0010 on “gov,” the Federal e-rulemaking portal, at Direct links to the comment form and docket are available under Notice No. 164 on the TTB Web site a 


Domaine Léonine Amédée 2015, Naturally

Part of the pleasure of being in the Center of the Wine Universe (New York City) is getting my hands on all these weird, cool wines I couldn’t sniff in Seattle. Like the 2015 Domaine Léonine Amédée.

It’s (primarily) Syrah from Roussillon. That would be the part of Southern France that cozies up with the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Pyrenees near the Spanish border. It is a “natural” wine (which I covered in an earlier post about a fizzy pink bottle with a label depicting a dude head-butting another dude). And the Amédée is a nouveau wine; the vintage is 2015. It’s bottled and sent to market pretty darn quick, like the much, much more famous Beaujolais Nouveau. And it goes through carbonic maceration (again like Bojo Nouveau), a winemaking process that adds a lot of fruity fresh fun to the mix.

2015 Domaine Léonine Amédée

Domaine Léonine Amédée 2015, Naturally
But hold it right there. Put aside thoughts of tutti-fruity Beaujolais Nouveau. The Amédée is very easy-going (especially at only 11% alcohol), but it’s got some funk to it. A nice earthy, intriguing component adding some real sizzle. The wine’s a bit of a shape-shifter, too, which you’ll find as you work your way through each glass/the bottle. (Another hat-tip to Discovery Wines in the East Village for the recommendation. #discowine)

I also really dig the guitar pick motif on the vintage and as the “o” in the domaine name.

BTW, I moved out of my first apartment sublet in New York. Right now experiencing the ultimate NYC housing dream: living alone. A fleeting week in a quiet, cosy airbnb just a few blocks away from this mounted bear. (I also had a deer head in my room, FYI.)

Goodbye East Village apartment with bear taxidermy mounted to the living room brick wall.

A photo posted by Jameson Fink (@jamesonfink) on

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Bellwether Wine Cellars 2013 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

I don’t consider Kris Matthewson, winemaker at Bellwether Wine Cellars, to be a “natural winemaker” (what does that even mean?). True, he doesn’t like to make a lot of cellar additions and prefers a decidedly hands-off approach, but he’s not above making adjustments if a wine needs them. That said, his wines do lean toward the idiosyncratic. They invite the adventurous and open minded and aren’t for everyone. Some are truly unlike any other in the Finger Lakes region. I think he probably likes it that way. Of a lineup that also includes a handful of single-vineyard rieslings, a gamay noir-dominant rose and…