When the dot com boom went bust in San Francisco, Kai Gagnon took on hours at Firefly in Noe Valley. He moved to Cambridge to work at Craigie Street Bistro before landing at Bergamot as wine director. He spoke with Caitlin Griffith about sweet wines from France and Madeira.
We have such a great list of “after dinner wines.” I love sweet wines with acidity. There is no such thing as a dessert wine in France. I mean, sure there are wines that you drink toward the end of a meal in France, but these wines go so well with savory foods too. Like a glass of Banyuls Blanc with grilled sardines. Two of our top “dessert” wines in the last couple of months are the Traginer Banyuls Blanc and the Traginer Banyuls Rimage Mise Tardive. Oxidative wines are great too, especially as versatile pairing options.
A slightly sweet Vouvray or Maury with foie gras torchon—the best. There are almost more options for pairing these sweeter wines with savory foods. Or how about vin jaune with cheese. Super versatile—we have three cheeses on our cheese plate each day and vin jaune is just so great with most of them. But it’s phenomenal with blue cheese. And Comté?! Forget about it.
I also love vintage Madeira. From D’Oliveira I’ve got a 1968 Boal and an 1988 Terrantez by the glass. My mark-up is so small on all of this. I’m really just hoping that people come in and try some of these pairings and then ask for it at other restaurants. I’d like to be able to go out and drink like this with dinner!
Sherry is something else I wish that was more available. Like I said we do our own charcuterie and usually have this coppa. It is amazing and I’m pairing a Manzanilla with the butchers’ plate. So fun to have a $6 glass of Manzanilla or Fino and some cured meat. Refreshing. Great to introduce people to new stuff and I’m so lucky to live and work in a place where people are open to that.