By PK Greenfield
Wine bars have been popping up (and corks) throughout the city for over a decade. Many of them are so popular that they’ve outlasted some of the glorified, star-rated restaurants. Following are a select choice of places in several Manhattan neighborhoods to wine & dine with the locals.
Buceo 95 Sommelier, Sean Perman
I was fortunate to live in Barcelona, Spain for several years. I was equally fortunate to discover that a Spanish tapas and wine bar on the Upper West Side. Buceo 95 is packing in the locals and serving up some of the most inspired cuisine paired with a vast selection of wines, predominantly from the Iberian Peninsula. Known as the Barcelona off of Broadway, Buceo 95 is a sleek and modern wine bar on 95th Street near Amsterdam Ave. — you can’t miss the fire engine red exterior. Sommelier Sean Perman will help walk you thru the menu with excellent wine pairings.
The food is very traditional from the land of late sunsets and a Mediterranean breeze, but with many surprises. My recommendations include their bacon wrapped dates stuffed with a chorizo goat cheese emulsion: The combination is sweet, smoky and robust. I also enjoy the roasted brussel sprouts with black currants, orange thyme vinaigrette and basil — fresh and tart with a citrus finish. The Costillas de Cordero are tender lamb chops with vanilla poached mango, marcona almonds, harissa cream and watercress — savory, aromatic and slightly spicy. Make sure you reserve bread for this cream sauce. Paired with a glass of 12Volts red compliments the flavors perfectly.
Sean mentioned that many Americans believe that all sherry wines are sweet. I admit that I too believed that sherry was something my grandmother would sip. I was wrong. While there are several brands to choose from, I recommend the Solera 1842 Oloroso. What struck me about this wine is the subtle woodiness and as Sean said, “Every taste has a whisper of its original 1843 barrel.” It’s harvested, fermented and bottled in Jerez, Spain.
This wine bar is perfect for sharing copas y platos with friends or an intimate date night.
201 West 95 Street
New York, NY
Photo Credit: Chris for Carnivor Cabernet
I was recently introduced to Carnivor Cabernet at The Chester in the Meat Packing District. Cabernet is the king of reds and this full-bodied wine is bold yet smooth with a stone fruit finish. This wine will compliment a T-bone steak or even your favorite burger. When you visit The Chester, their 18oz New York Strip steak is charred to perfection and succulent. I also recommend their prosciutto flatbread with arugula — tasty and flavorful with a combination of healthy greens, crispy crust and salty meat.
South African Wine Bar, Kaia
If the Upper East Side is your place to hang out, check out Kaia Wine Bar on 3rd Avenue and 91st Street. You’re set for a South African treat with proprietors Suzaan Hauptfleisch, Executive Chef Ivan Giani and Josh behind the bar keeping the wine flowing.
It’s no secret that South Africa produces some of the best and finest wines, pairing them with Kaia’s cuisine makes them all the more enjoyable. I recommend the Buffel Sliders, bison with mushroom chutney — sweet meets savory and sandwiched in between bite-sized buns. Try the Dukka Hoender (chicken, red onion and mushroom), Prawns Peri Peri — very spicy! Josh recommended the Chenin Blanc Original and the Cabernet Franc Dolomite by Raatz Family. Both were exceptional and perfectly complimented our appetizers. Enjoy the food and wine with a toast to Madiba.
Kaia plays host to local artists and showcases their work. On this particular evening, all of the cuisine was served on hand-made trays and platters by Phil Gautreau: http://www.philgautreau.net.
Kaia Wine Bar
1614 3rd Avenue (90/91 Sts),
New York, NY