When it comes to drinking wine, there are a number of ways to approach it. The simplest is to buy a bottle, open it and drink it. You can pretty much do the same thing at just about any restaurant in town. But what if there was a way of getting more from your experience? In this edition of Q&A, we sit down with George Christakos, sommelier, lover of wine and co-owner of The Brooklyn Warehouse and Battery Park.
DO A LOT OF PEOPLE ORDER WINE BY THE BOTTLE IN RESTAURANTS?
A lot of people do, but the majority order wine by the glass. I think that speaks to the customers’ sense of responsibility to not overconsume. By getting glasses of wine, you can regulate how much you are drinking. What people don’t often consider is that all restaurants are able to recork a bottle and allow the customer to take it home.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO ORDER A BOTTLE OF WINE FOR A TABLE?
The pro move is to buddy up to your server and extract their knowledge. They are the expert. They know the wine list. People get worried that asking questions suggests their lack of knowledge, but this is a mistake.
ARE THERE WINE STYLES THAT ARE GENERALLY REALLY GREAT FOR SHARING BY THE BOTTLE?
Rosé. It’s versatile and built for easy drinking. It might be the perfect wine to share amongst a group of people when there is a variety of food on the table. It can handle a pretty full spectrum of taste profiles in food. Then there’s lighter red wines like pinot noir, or Beaujolais, which is an excellent foundation for a lot of food. Sparkling too. Nova Scotia is obviously crushing it on the sparkling front, and sparkling, because of the effervescence and the acidity, can tackle a lot of different kinds of food as well.
WHAT ARE YOUR THREE FAVOURITE NOVA SCOTIA WINES RIGHT NOW?
I’m really enjoying some of the pétillant-naturels that some of the wineries are making right now, but for individual wines it’s Planters Ridge Tidal Bay, Blomidon Crémant and Domaine de Grand Pré Riesling.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DESSERT WINES?
I have to come clean here. I have a massive collection of dessert wines right now. It’s arguably my favourite style of wine. I love the sweet, viscous, aromatic nature. It’s like liquid candy and I have a sweet tooth. Plus, Nova Scotia’s producing some really excellent ones because of the acidity of our grapes. It goes back to the lemonade analogy. Sugar with water is nice, and lemon with water is nice, but combined there is this wonderful balance of sweet and acidity.
WHAT ABOUT ORDERING A GLASS OF WINE WITH DESSERT?
You have to be careful. You need to have a bridge between the wine and the dessert. If your dessert is sweet, you want the wine to have some sweetness as well. The contrast of the acidity is great, but if you were to order a sauvignon blanc or a L’Acadie, it’s going to make your dessert taste very sweet and the wine overly acidic.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO ENJOYS WINE BUT MAYBE DOESN’T KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT IT?
Try to find unpretentious resources. Winefolly.com is hands down the most comprehensive and approachable online resource. Places like Bishop’s Cellar, where they have 11-plus sommeliers on staff who have the knowledge without the pretension. People with passion tend to want to share their passion with you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.