Trial and Terroir: Tasting Beyond Your Apartment

Wine-Tara3Tara Hankinson, MBA Class of 2015

Spring break is nearly here! The final hurdle is convincing ourselves that we can cram the past month of Damodaran’s lectures into our brains in one weekend, or that we’ve learned enough about managerial principles to convincingly recommend a leadership strategy in an exotic industry about which we know nothing. Simple. To unwind on post-midterm treks, I recommend seeking out the specialties in your destination of choice, whether that is Israel with Sternies, finally making it out of Manhattan, or living vicariously through your classmates by sipping a glass of South African Pinotage on your futon.

Awaken your Palate in South Africa: Pinotage is the new Pinot Noir

I absolutely love Pinotage. The grape is a result of breeding Pinot Noir and Cinsault varieties, creating South Africa’s signature wine, kind of like America’s Zinfandel. Pinotage inherits fruitiness from Cinsault, funkiness from Pinot Noir, and has a depth of smoky, umami flavors all its own. South Africa has fully embraced the wine as an emblem for their traditions and requires “Cape blends,” referring to Cape Town, to be 30-70% Pinotage. Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage will pair perfectly with a view of the South African penguins. ($14 at Vino Fine Wine & Spirits, 121 East 27th Street)

Go Kosher with Flavor in Israel: Same Grapes, Different Process

Some kosher wines are renowned (or maybe infamous) for being overly sweet and used only for ceremonious purposes. I’m happy to report that consumer demands have widened the kosher wine-making regions and now the US, South Africa, France, and other countries are producing wines that carry the hechsher (“seal of approval”). The best kosher wines spring from traditional blends but have all-kosher ingredients including those used in the fining process to clarify wine (fish bladders and eggs). Too much chemistry? Basically, kosher wines more than “stand up” to their non-kosher counterparts. The winery Domaine du Castel in Israel has a heart-warming entrepreneurial story and makes a great 100% Chardonnay, “C” Blanc du Castel. This wine ages in a mix of old and new oak, bringing in some buttery, vanilla flavors that would pair very well with heavier fish dishes or a cheese, honey, and fruit plate. ($49 at Sherry-Lehman, 505 Park Avenue)

Express Terroir the Grecian Way: Clear, Crisp Island Wines

Terroir, in its simplest form, is the expression of the growing conditions of a vine through the wine we taste. The idea that we can taste the climate, geography, and geology of a growing region is the core essence of the terroir concept. Though I have not traveled to Greece, I have been fascinated by logistics of growing vines on essentially volcanic materials with minimal rain and intense heat. Interestingly, grapes thrive in tough conditions leading Grecian wines to a recent revival in New York restaurants. Many of their varietals are not grown outside of the country and offer a fantastic value to American shoppers. The island of Santorini is particularly known for producing fantastic name-saked white wines from the varietals Assyrtiko and Athiri, whose vines are grown in a snake-like coil against to ground to protect the fruit from the worst of the conditions. I recommend trying the 2012 Assyrtiko-Athiri Santorini from Domaine Sigalas with a side of salty air (whether from the Aegean Sea or the East River). ($17 at Astor Wines and Spirits, 399 Lafayette St)

L-Train Pilgrimage to Williamsburg: Brooklyn Winery’s Spin on NY Vines

Brooklyn Winery is less than 20 minutes from campus and feels like the sophisticated older cousin of Brooklyn Brewery. The winery’s team has supported Stern through Luxury & Retail Consulting Corps project and will be contributing to Think Social Drink Local. For a richer tasting experience than mass consumption with a DJ, I recommend heading to their cozy location off the Bedford L-Train stop for a tasting flight. The winemaker’s style bends towards organic and natural techniques, resulting in honest expressions of the varietals. I recommend trying the barrel fermented Riesling to see how earthy and mellow this normally bright, acidic wine can be. Wine flights are a reasonable $14-$22 for three small pours, which gives you the perfect opportunity to apply your MBA multi-tasking, multi-tasting skills. (Brooklyn Winery, 213 North 8th Street)

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