April 03, 2012

NY Vintners: Tex-Mex & Wine

Why on EARTH would I refuse the chance to spend a few hours drinking one of my favorite things (wine) and eating one of my favorite cuisines (Tex-Mex)? Of course I signed ABF & myself up ASAP for our second class at NY Vinters, a tiny but welcoming (and expandable) space in Tribeca. It's steps from City Hall and several subway lines, FYI.

ABF & I attended a pinot noir class there ages ago, and we were so impressed that I couldn't wait to find another reason to return. We've been to other wine classes before--NYV just blows away any competition.

I expected a much more informal setting, imagining we'd be getting small tastes of everything, not entire courses in lovely settings.

We had a few sips of bubbly upon arrival (such a nice touch!) I'm not a fan of carbonation, but I didn't let that stop me ;) This was the Gruet Blanc de Noir, and it is the only non-Champagne (France) region winemaker allowed to put "methode champenoise" on their labels. Impressive!
We started out with some whites: The Loca Linda Torrontes & the Kung Fu Girl Riesling. I loved both of them ($20 a bottle)--I have always been a fan of Riesling, from super-sweet to super-dry. Love 'em. The Torrontes is usually a nice crisp white (and you can usually find very reasonably priced ones!)

These whites went with our first course: a tamale. My heart sank a little at first because I do not like tamales do not like no thank you but oh wait..this was AMAZING. The secret(s)? Duck fat instead of lard, organic pork belly, intoxicating cilantro pesto and a whole lot of skill from NYV's Executive Chef Ryan Smith. I ate every single bite of this, from the micro-cilantro on top to the freeze-dried corn kernels surrounding the plate. Wow. Each bite was savory, satsifying, and shut-your-mouth delicious. If I had no shame whatsoever, I'd have asked for a second helping. Wowsa. The dish brought out the fruitiness of the Torrontes, and was especially dreamy with the Riesling.

Our second course was a bubbling cauldron of cheesy goodness--queso fresco, piquillo peppers, tiny, chewy dices of chorizo, and a match made in heaven with the white wines. The fattiness of the cheese disk was cut by the slightly sweet, acidic whites. Love.

Then it was time to move on to the reds: first the Biul & Gine 2008 Gine & Gine (a Priorat for $20 a bottle) and a Tikal 2010 Patriota (Malbec for $26 bottle). I didn't care for the Priorat by itself--too tannic and bitter for me, but I also don't like bitter foods (brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, etc). I have yet to meet a Malbec I didn't like....

Our final dish of the evening was as stellar as I'd come to expect by now. What amazing food! This dish was a chili made from Colorado lamb, which Chef Ryan says is his personal favorite. Forget New Zealand, he said--go with Colorado. There was a nice chipotle smokiness to this dish, and the sunchokes (which are the root of sunflower plant--did you know that? I didn't know that!) were a nice, slightly crunchy contrast to the soft, succulent bits of lamb. Also? Not a WHIFF of that gamey flavor that has put me off lamb most of the time. The richness of the lamb completely tamed the Priorat--so much that I brought home a bottle!

I can't say enough about how well NY Vinters does these classes. Not only is it delicious wine, it's a welcoming atmosphere without a drop of pretension. You want stuffy and no fun? Go somewhere else. You want approachable, knowledgeable people who want you to love wine and food as much as they do? Come to NY Vinters!! It's crazy convenient, quite affordable, and just the best in town. Cheers!

New York Vintners
21 Warren Street
New York, NY 10007
(212) 812-3999

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