My friend Jane had an idea for an app. She loves wine and can a ord to drink what she wants. But she likes only very few things. We spent a half hour one night pouring over the wine list at Gramercy Tavern, talking options and quizzing the sommelier on the floor, searching out a place in Burgundy worth the investment, or a place in the Loire I already knew would make her happy.
“What’s this?” I asked Justin Timsit, the wine director, when he came by the table. I didn’t know Champagne Egly-Ouriet made a still red wine.
Both Jane and I could tell we’d found something—it was in Timsit’s eyes when he suggested we try it. He had that dreamy, pleading look that most people work to disguise.
Jane had never tried a Coteaux Champenois before, and while Timsit went to fetch the bottle, I told her they could be hit-or-miss. But when they hit, they can connect like the delicate Bouzy Rouge recently served with a plate of chanterelles at lunch in Bollinger’s cellars—a wine from 1928 that had aged as gracefully and beautifully as any great Côte d’Or pinot noir I’d tasted.
I had no expectation that the Egly-Ouriet—a 2008—would perform at the same level as the Bollinger, but when we each tasted it, we probably had that same look as Timsit.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, said Jane, breaking the silence and holding her fist up in the air. You should create an app, she told me later, after the last splash out of the decanter was gone, to help people find wines like that on great restaurant lists.
Her idea will remain proprietary, as the basis of any good app should be. But suffice it to say that our Fall issue became an app project.
It’s got to be simple, one wealthy young programmer told me when I shared the concept. Wine was no challenge for him; he’d solved it by choosing only to drink Coche-Dury Meursault.
Our team has never done simple well. We work in wine. We may be luddites when it comes to mobile apps, but we are, at least, consistent. So we continued on, hoping to solve a complicated problem: How do you start from wines you love and find pathways to others?
Our answer involves you, our fellow travelers in wine, and gives you any number of ways in. We’ll be presenting a simple pair of wines each week on our website: Taste the two wines, side by side, and decide which you prefer. The following week, we’ll add another pair, and begin to link each wine to other pairs as they appear. Analog as we are, we present this web of tasting pathways in print first. And for those who love the full-on sensory overload of the analog world, the pathways in this issue may give you a completely new perspective on wine. They have for us.
When we published our first Fall issue (we called it our Guide to Understanding Wine) in 1994, Michael Bonadies, who was running the Myriad Restaurant Group with Drew Nieporent, told me that everyone has a path through wine. His, like many others in the industry, had taken him to pinot noir, which he is likely still exploring today. Wherever you might be on your path, this issue is designed to speed you along to wines you may well love.
illustration by Vivian Ho
This story appears in the print issue of Fall 2017.
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