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.



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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Ultimate Red Wine for a Party: Unlitro

Ultimate Red Wine for a Party: UnlitroWhat wine should you bring to a party? An age-old dilemma. Here is my latest crush:

2014 Ampeleia “Unlitro”

You’ve probably already figured out that it’s a big 1-liter bottle. (File under “D” for “DUH”.) So Unlitro is already the #partystarter. What’s on the inside is a light (12.5% alcohol), fresh, fun red wine. A Grenache-based wine, Unlitro hails from the Tuscan coast. I shouldn’t be surprised by how good it is since Elisabetta Foradori is one of the winery’s founders. If you haven’t tried her Teroldego,  do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. Go directly to a wine shop and buy a bunch of bottles.

BTW, that brick wall? That’s my room in the East Village. I’ll be here until mid-January, when Brooklyn comes calling. I picked up my Unlitro for $20* at Discovery Wines, a short stroll from my place. For wine-drinking in the area, I’ve been parking myself at Fifty Paces. The food is good and the staff is chill and friendly. I’m also very fond of the steps-away, no-nonsense Sophie’s, where I spent Thanksgiving eve watching Sixteen Candles on the TV via closed captioning while random early 90s music played.

Here’s a much nicer photo of the bottle:

Ultimate Red Wine for a Party: Unlitro

Above photo by Andrea Scaramuzza. Label by Francesca Ballarini.

*Remember that this is a 1L bottle so Unlitro is 1 1/3 bottles-worth. 

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