It's pretty rare that we actually praise a restaurant for its wine service. In case you haven't noticed, we are usually bitching and moaning about restaurants for their boring lists of undrinkable wines served by a mostly bird-brained staff. Well, Vino Girl has a fresh outlook for you today.
I ate at Cookshop in NYC last night, a restaurant run by the same guys who opened Five Points in Noho many years back and are re-opening Provence in Soho in a week or so. The food was delicious and the wait staff was charming but, alas, we are not here to discuss such inconsequential details -- we are here to talk about the wine.
The wine list is only one page, whites on one side and reds on the back, but it is carefully chosen and diverse. I did notice an overabundance of the most recent vintages (a pet peeve of mine and Winemonkey's) but altogether at least there were some interesting choices to make. My eye went directly to a 1968 Rioja for $150 that stuck out like a sore thumb for many reasons. 1968, which happens to be my birth year, is also generally speaking a horrifying vintage around the globe (save for a few examples in Italy, Spain and CA). What in the world was it doing on the list? I summoned our waiter who summoned the wine guy and he explained that the wine was really alive right now and that he likes to rotate something interesting and unexpected on to the wine list every so often. He also told us that he has some vintage bottles in the cellar that are off the list but for the offer for those who want to spend some extra money on wine.
In the end, we resisted the temptation to try the '68 (I am holding out for the 1968 Vega Sicilia Unico for any of you who are shopping for my birthday gift) and went with the Sommelier's suggestion of a 2001 Carinena, also from Spain. He was very enthusiastic about it and at $50 it fit more with our meal and casual mood. Not the most memorable bottle of wine but pleasant, very drinkable and unique. It was refreshing to talk to a Sommelier who is passionate about their list and enjoys recommending wines and following up on his suggestions. There are places with more involved lists for wine fanatics to be sure but if you want to be assured an agreeable wine experience, Vino Girl highly recommends Cookshop. As a side note, they also stock some killer stouts, porters and pilsners. ;) Cheers!