Where to Wine, January 2022 Somm On the Go
After nearly two years of a global pandemic, we’re all desperate to travel again. Some of us have already begun, but in the sincere hope that 2022 is full of adventure and new experiences, we reached out to intrepid colleagues in the wine industry in search of the best places to drink wine in the world.
Personally, I’ll go with my adopted home country, Italy, and my new favorite city, Milan: For the ultimate old-school enoteca experience, head to the historic Cantine Isola (Via Paolo Sarpi, 30, Milan), in Milano’s version of Chinatown. Stand at the tiny bar eating snacks and perusing the shelves groaning with bottles. For something sleeker and more modern, it’s N’Ombra de Vin (Via San Marco, 2, Milan) in the Centro Storico. Head down to the vaulted cellar, grab a chair at one of the long communal tables, and dive into an international, 2,500-bottle list. Down in Rome, my sentimental favorite is the tiny Il Goccetto (Via del Bianchi Vecchi, 14), where the action usually spills out onto the street in front. It’s not far from the Campo de’ Fiori market.
Here’s where our friends say to find the good stuff!
Ian Cauble, Master Sommelier/Founder of SommSelect (Instagram: @iancauble)
La Maison du Colombier (1 Rue Charles Cloutier, Beaune): On a beautiful little corner in the center of Beaune, is my first (and usually last) stop whenever I visit Burgundy. The list is 2,000 wines deep, the food is excellent, and the sommeliers know what they’re doing. Cool atmosphere, too!
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Elaine Chukan Brown, Award-Winning Wine Writer & Speaker (@hawk_wakawaka)
Crush Wine, Anchorage: Alaska has the kind of smart, deep, international wine list you wouldn’t necessarily expect in such a remote place. It’s such a boon when visiting family there.
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Ken Fredrickson, Master Sommelier, Author, Wine Importer/Distributor, Chicago, IL (@kenfredricksonms)
Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar, Humboldt Park, Chicago (954 North California Ave.): This is where wine industry people go - the list is chock full of classics but there’s also weird shit for days.
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Jasmine Hirsch, GM/Winemaker, Hirsch Vineyards, CA (@jasminehirsch)
L’Hotel de Beaune (5 Rue Samuel Legay, Beaune, France): The bistro at L’Hotel de Beaune is where you go to eat beautiful roast chicken and drink all the Burgundy.
Zuni Café, San Francisco (1658 Market St.): Same goes for Zuni Café in San Francisco, my favorite restaurant in the world.
Golden Age Wine, Birmingham, AL (2828 Culver Road, Mountain Brook): And here’s an out-of-the-way gem for you: Golden Age Wine, just outside Birmingham, AL. It’s an amazing wine bar/shop and the people are great.
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Anthony Giglio, Writer & Speaker, Food & Wine Magazine; Wine Director, American Express Centurion Global Lounge Network (@anthonygiglio)
Legendary sommelier Josh Wesson takes inspiration from France, Spain, and Italy at his excellent Suprema Provisions in NYC’s Greenwich Village (305 Bleecker St.). That’s about as far as I’ve been able to stray from home lately, but if I ever get back to Copenhagen, I’ll be found at Ved Stranden 10, eating oysters and drooling over the incredible wine list.
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Skye La Torre, Founder & Beverage Director, Pluck Wine Bar & Restaurant, New Orleans, LA (@skyelatorre)
Okay, let’s start in Beaune, Burgundy, with La Dilettante (11 Rue du Faubourg Bretonnière): great lunch spot that makes it seem effortless to have food and wine that overdelivers for the price. Seemingly always has well priced Raveneau Chablis and Beaujolais gems. I wish I lived on the same street as this place. Same goes for Bar Brutal in Barcelona (Carrer de la Princesa, 14): I loved the vibe, and the employees. The culture they create is inspiring to me. For Champagne geeks, Le Wine Bar in the town of Reims (16 Place du Forum) is the spot. Finally, in my hometown of New Orleans, the place I’m at (when I’m not at my own) is Paladar 511 (511 Marigny St.): My kind of food and my kind of wine list, and very generously priced. It's so hard to be a consistently delicious spot that also has a killer list, and for that it wins as my favorite restaurant here.
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Dan Petroski, Winemaker/Owner, Massican Wines, St. Helena, CA (@danpetroski; @massicanwinery)
L’Univerre in Bordeaux (44 Rue Lecocq). It’s where the local wine community (makers, owners, collectors) goes to drink everything other than Bordeaux. I also hold a special place in my heart for the Sirk family’s La Subida (Via Subida 52, Cormòns), an inn and restaurant in the town of Cormòns, in Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. It’s the quintessential Michelin-star restaurant, in the original sense of the system: You are a traveler passing through and are welcomed with regional wine and food that creates a lasting memory of wonderful hospitality, a warm heart, and a full stomach.
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Josh Phelps, Owner/Winemaker, Grounded Wine Co., St. Helena, CA (@joshphelps)
I think there’s consensus that Press in Napa Valley (587 St. Helena Hwy., St. Helena, CA) has the most comprehensive California wine list there is, anywhere. Other regular stops for me include Cadet Wine & Beer Bar in the town of Napa, which is a great place for local winemakers to drink non-local wine.
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Jeff Porter, Sommelier, Italian Wine Educator, Importer (@drinkeatlove)
My ‘Cheers’ is Vinoteca Centro Storico (Via Roma 6, Serralunga d'Alba) in Serralunga d’Alba, in the heart of the Barolo wine zone. Any wine professional who visits the area ends up there at some point. And, for those curious about the current cutting edge of Italian natural wine, Litro, in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood (Via Fratelli Bonnet 5, Roma) is a must-visit.
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Jordan Mackay, James Beard Award-Winning Journalist; Author of “The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste” (with Rajat Parr) and “Franklin BBQ” (with Aaron Franklin) (@therealjordanmackay)
Larrys, Montreal, Quebec (5201 St. Laurent Blvd.) Montreal is natty wine crazy, and Larrys is no exception. But the wines here are solid and interesting and unflawed—always refreshing, delicious and affordable. Even better, the menu of small, compelling plates here is veggie centric, brilliant, and wonderful. Seating is tight, but that just adds to the energy (post pandemic). This is the kind of place at which you plan to stay an hour and six hours later you end up stumbling out thinking about when you can go back.
Roscioli, Rome, Italy (Via dei Giubbonari, 21) Along with Shakespeare and Ted Lasso, a great example of human achievement. No superior place to eat and drink exists. All the good things, from Burgundy to Barolo, carbonara to Cognac. Idealized versions of the classic Roman pastas and you can get Spain’s best jamon and anchovies here. Life gets no better than a meal here.
Birdie’s, Austin, TX (2944 E 12th St., Unit A) Austin’s never been a great wine town, until recently. There are fancier places to drink wine in Austin, but this backyard spot has an almost perfect wine list of interesting, balanced, accessible bottles from around the globe, supplemented by a shrewd selection of names that represent a finer slice of the world. The food is simple, but perfect for wine and executed with a deft touch.
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Erin Rickenbacker, Sommelier (Bellota, SF); Spanish Wine Expert; Owner of the forthcoming El Chato Taberna Española, San Francisco (@itrainsinspain)
Bar del Pla, Barcelona, Spain (Carrer Moncada 2): Very fun place to eat great food, drink delicious Spanish wine and be súper, súper feliz.
Angelita, Madrid, Spain (Street Reina 4): There are so many amazing wines on this list it's unbearable. Bring a friend. Or, even better, several.
Ordinaire, Oakland, CA (3354 Grand Avenue): I'm not getting out of here without mentioning Oakland. This place came to life when I lived up the street and I still love their focus on natural wines from small, independent producers.
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David Rosoff, Restaurateur & Sommelier, Bar Moruno; Causita, Los Angeles, CA (@barmorunola)
Lots of inspiration to be found at La Vinya del Senyor in the Born District of Barcelona (Plaza de Santa María, 5). Killer wine list, great tapas, and they have a guest sommelier program that brings in wine pros from all over Spain and further afield. Another perfect wine bar/bistro/bottle shop is La Part des Anges (“Angel’s Share”) in Nice, France (17 Rue Gubernatis). Closer to home is Fool’s Errand in San Francisco (639A Divisadero Street). Great list, great vibe, very down to earth and welcoming.
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