Ever wonder what the brightest minds in their field do in their off time? So do we. That inspired us to pick the brains of Michelin-starred chefs to see what they’re munching on at home. Now, we’re asking the top winos in the land what they like to drink away from the workplace.
It’s an irresistible question, sort of like asking which fellow athletes a star pro basketball player appreciates, or what hacks a sleep expert uses to snooze better. These people are at the top of their field for a reason, and we can’t help but want to be flies on their walls. In this case, we want to nose through their fridges, wine cellars, and home bars.
Coly Den Haan is a sommelier and wine shop owner based in Southern California. Her store, Vinovore, is a bottle shop set along the edge of the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. It’s run by women and features women winemakers, along with selections from sake, beer, and cider producers. For Den Haan, when she’s off the clock it’s all about sipping on a classic.
“As much as I love wine and how it’s a major part of my life, at home I tend to go straight for an ice-cold martini,” she says. “My current favorite is two parts Future Gin, one part Dolin extra dry vermouth, a splash of dirty juice with an olive and a twist!”
Filippo Bartolotta is a seasoned wine expert, having logged many years in the circuit. He has served as a tasting judge for Decanter and has been dubbed the “sommelier of the stars,” having worked with Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, and the Obama family in Tuscany. Bartolotta jokes that while not working, he takes a break from booze. “Kidding,” he assures us.
“Usually I open samples that come my way and I enjoy sharing them later with friends and neighbors to hear what they think,” he says. “Occasionally I crack open some old vintages like, tonight, an Amarone 1971 for my best friend’s birthday.”
He’s definitely the kind of somm you hope to live in the neighborhood with, to take part in some of his frequent sampling parties. Bartolotta also appreciates some iconic go-to Italian sippers. “I love a taste of artisan amaro or some serious grappa in winter,” he admits. “A good craft beer to break the routine as well.”
Over in the desert in Arizona, Paola Embry is the wine director at the stunning Wrigley Mansion. The Chilean-born somm has earned quite a following, having created an amazing list at Wrigley along with several other outposts. Her esteemed and varied wines lists have earned her the “Best Award of Excellence” title from Wine Spectator multiple times.
“When I’m off the clock, I love drinking different Crus of Beaujolais from any of the ten Cru Villages,” Embry says. “They tend to go well with the many comfort foods that we eat during the numerous festivities of the holiday months.”
What kind of pairings? Embry is one step ahead of us. “For example, Juliénas pairs perfectly with game meat like lamb, duck, or a wild meat ragù Bolognese with pappardelle pasta—some of the most ideal comfort food, in my opinion,” she says. “I also love a more medium-bodied Chénas.”
Embry also can’t resist a good bottle of bubbles. “I also love to drink growers champagne, which I also like to refer to sometimes as ‘farmer fizz,'” she says. “These are bottles that are produced by very small, often family-owned, Champagne houses, leading to small batches of artisanal and incredibly delicious Champagne.”
She’s especially fond of NV André Couet No.3 Grand Cru Rosé, Bouzy, Champagne made from Pinot Noir. Also, a couple of 100% Chardonnay selections including NV Larmandier-Bernier ‘Latitude’ Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 1er Cru, Vertus, Champagne as well as NV Robert Moncuit ‘Les Grand Blancs’ Blanc des Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.
NV André Couet No.3 Grand Cru Rosé, Bouzy, Champagne
Take delight in this 100% Pinot Noir flavored with seductive notes of pomegranate, raspberry, wild strawberry, cherry blossoms, fresh red and pink flowers, crushed chalk, and orange zest.
Somm Erin Scala runs the wine program Birdie’s in Virginia. The oyster bar, cafe, and wine hangout touts a list of some 400 bottles. Scala likes a few options away from work, alcoholic and not, many unexpected.
“Parker Girard, our wonderful Bar Manager, introduced us all to Stappi—a red rhubarb bitter soda that is non-alcoholic but similar to Campari in flavor,” Scala says. “It is the perfect drink for when you want something amazing without the alcohol.”
Scala also loves tea. “I go crazy over high-quality Oolong Tea,” she says. “I love trying all the different iterations, and Oolong is one of those elegant, hand-made products that are not difficult to find.” Scala hunts specifically for the loose-leaf kind at nicer tea shops or natural food stores.
What about wine? Well, like a lot of somms, Scala is into Syrah. But she’s also into a lesser-known sparkling. “In Limoux, they’ve been making sparkling wine since 1531,” Scala says. “There are two main kinds, Blanquette and Crémant, and both are usually affordable and delicious. These are typically based on Chenin Blanc or Mauzac, and tend to have a lovely deep flavor that kind of reminds me of pears.”
So if you ever want to drink like the sommeliers do, now you know how.
Union Horse Distilling Co. unveils limited-edition, small-batch, bottled-in-bond bourbon whiskey
Here's your chance to try this seasonal, limited release
If you’re a fan of bourbon whiskey, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the phrase "bottled-in-bond" written on the label and you might not know exactly what that means. Well, it has nothing to do with a fictional British secret agent. In fact, bourbons (and other whiskeys) that are designated as bottled-in-bond have to follow a set of rules and regulations. To get this title, the whiskey must be matured for a minimum of your years, bottled at exactly 100-proof, produced by one distiller in a single season, and finally matured in a federally bonded warehouse.
In recent years, you’ve probably seen this phrase more and more, as the style of bourbon has become increasingly popular with brands releasing new bottles all the time. Union Horse Distilling Co. in Lenexa, Kansas is getting in on this trend with its soon-to-be-released Union Horse Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon.
What is this small-batch bourbon?
Distilled in 2018, this small-batch, bottled-in-bond expression will be released this week and will be a new seasonal, limited release of only 2,000 bottles. Now that’s what we call limited.
If you know Napa Valley wine, you know Robert Mondavi Winery. This esteemed winery has been around since 1966, impressing tourists and locals alike with its astounding beauty in both landscape and wine. A tour of Napa Valley's greatest truly isn't complete without a walk through the famous To Kalon Vineyard, recognized as one of the most prestigious Grand Cru vineyards in the world. From Robert Mondavi Winery's exquisite grapes are born a hearty range of beautiful wines, including its famed Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, and Fumé Blanc Reserve. This time-honored name seems limitless in its ability to impress. And now, the famed label has, incredibly, outdone itself.
Drink Robert Mondavi wine at the new tasting room
In addition to the classically beautiful and romantic ambiance of the vineyard and winery itself, Robert Mondavi Winery has just opened the doors to a sparkling new downtown tasting room, Arch & Tower. Located in the historic Borreo Building at 930 3rd Street, Arch & Tower is a bright new jewel in the Napa crown. Pairing a gorgeous juxtaposition of old architecture and richness with an edgy yet inviting modern flair, this new hot spot is about to take Napa by storm. The venue is relaxed yet elegant, with a large outdoor terrace overlooking the Napa River, often peppered with gondolas sparkling in the sunset. Inside, the finishes are masculine and warm, inviting you to sink in, get comfortable, and enjoy.
While very adamant about keeping in the spirit of neighborhood camaraderie by encouraging guests to enjoy dinner at any of downtown Napa's impressive restaurants, Arch & Tower's chef Jeff Mosher is presenting some delicious bites that pair perfectly with your selected tastings. Depending on your appetite, you can select from the menu one of four tastings, varying in wines as well as different assortments of food pairings. And we're here to tell you - they're all delicious.
The place is truly spectacular, a simultaneous testament to both Robert Mondavi Winery's history and its future, extending its reach to not only the more experienced wine drinker but now, the younger taster, new to the art of wine and enthusiastic to jump into this world Robert Mondavi Winery has created.
Robert Mondavi Winery's Director of Hospitality Phil Hansell told The Manual, "The honor and responsibility of being a part of the team ushering in this next chapter is humbling. The wine is world-class. The food is authentic, unapologetically Napa, and we want all to be a part of it and enjoy it."
Brunch vomiting: San Francisco restaurants are fining customers for this gross habit, and every city should do the same
Bottomless mimosas are great, but not holding your liquor isn't
It may very well be that until now, brunch was the last nice thing. It's the one meal that remains untouched and cheapened by paper napkins and obnoxiously fluorescent drive-thru menus. It's the one meal where people still dare to dress for the occasion in pretty florals and sophisticated neckwear. If guests are invited for brunch, it's more than likely to be an occasion with soft linens and sparkling china. Yes, we've been good to brunch. And brunch has returned the favor, magically turning day drinking into something sophisticated instead of tacky. But, as it goes, all good things must come to an end. And it would appear that time is now. At least in San Francisco restaurants.
Of course, not being able to hold one's alcohol isn't a new development, but it's always carried with it a good level of deserved embarrassment and secrecy. Now, we certainly aren't here to judge, and overindulgence is something that's gotten the better of all of us more than a handful of times, to be sure. But when public vomiting is a brunch behavior that's become so normalized that restaurants are making rules around this one specific issue, we, as a society, have a problem.