Tim Kweeder joined Kensington Quarters as general manager this past November. He got his start at Moore Brothers Wine Company and he served as wine director at Petruce Et Al. before launching into the holiday season at this butcher-cum-restaurant.
On natural wines and keg wines
I’m a big fan of well-made natural wines, even if there are lots of bad ones out there. I’m not a big fan of over-manipulated wines. I work closely with small importers that have a meaning to their portfolio, that are very selective. Our butcher is also very selective, we only have non-GMO beef, and so I’m very strict with sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines, especially from smaller estates run by farmers.
Keg wines are definitely a new thing—it’s less than two years that have they been legal in Pennsylvania. They’ve been a thing in Europe for many years now, but this is my first time writing a list with draft wines. All our wines by the glass are on draft; it was the way Kensington Quarter was set up to operate.
We are just outside of Center City—its almost like Philadelphia’s Williamsburg. There are lots of hip young professionals here so the keg wines offer good value for them and they are a huge part of our wines sales. We are taking steps to make the bottle program better, and offer monthly classes to try to focus guests on lesser-known regions.
People still have the mentality that this time of year they can only drink red wine. And when they drink red wine, they want it to be full bodied. The Pacina [2009 Toscana, his number one selling wine] has a lot of nuance and character. It’s not just over extracted, there is soul to it. It does really well with food this time of year. With our whole-animal butchery, there are only a certain number of cuts on each animal. We can’t sustain selling steak each night so we have steak night on Sundays and on Sunday nights people order the Pacina.
On his number two as an Australian pinot noir
Domaine Lucci 2014 Noir de Florette is a natural wine from the Adelaide Hills in Australia. Lucy Margaux is a fun winery and all their wines tend to be under 13 percent alcohol, which is cool. When they hit the mark, like with this pinot noir, there’s so much going right—it’s herbal and floral and hazy (since it isn’t filtered). It totally reminded me of Overnoy in the Jura. The daughter hand makes the labels, but I always have to tell my staff to warn a guest when they order this willy-nilly. We have to give background on it.
Matches for Sparkling Wines
One of the pairings that went over well was with the buttermilk-brined chicken, which we fry in lard. People have fun with that paired with the Prosecco Col Fondo from Jenny & Francois’s portfolio, the Ca’ Dei Zago. It’s the third generation of that estate, the wine is the same that the grandfather used to make.
One of my favorite pairings is a big plate of charcuterie and a glass of lambrusco—charming and simple. I’m launching a by-the-glass lambrusco; there’s one from Denny Bini that I’ve already been rotating in and out. During Wine Week in Philadelphia, the first week in April, I’m going to be pouring lambrusco of all different types.
Caitlin Griffith knew her future career would entail food and drink when, at the age of six, she munched an anchovy from her father’s Caesar salad thinking it as a small strip of bacon—and was more than pleasantly surprised. While enrolled in New York University’s Food Studies program, she learned the secrets of affinage in the caves of Murray’s Cheese.