Alex Burch, of Nashville’s Bastion, on Pét-nats and Flying Blind

Just more than two years ago Burch, now 28, landed at Nashville’s Bastion thanks to a tasting group connection. Today, as Bastion’s wine director, he’s responsible for a wine program that has to flex regularly: the 24-seat restaurant’s menu is built around a choose-your-own-adventure theme. Every night, diners choose from a bingo card style menu (no one yells bingo, we should mention) until they’ve designed a personalized five-course meal. And Burch, he has to pair it all. His solution? The Fly Blind: A set of wines curated to work with everything from raw oysters with horseradish to sweet corn with country ham.

What’s the Fly Blind?
Our menu, the choose-your-own-adventure tasting menu, is a bit of a different experience. We set up a menu that looks like a bingo card. There are three options per five rows, with each row acting as a course, sort of. The objective is to pick one out of each row and you end up with a five-course meal. With all those different paths, it’s borderline impossible to run direct dish-by dish pairings. Instead, I’ll put down two wines with the first two courses, and repeat the process for the third and fourth course. So people get to play around.

The most satisfying experience was one table of four. One guy said wine A poured amazing with dish C; another guy said “what? No, wine B paired way better with dish C.” All these different people having different experiences at the same table. It was a lot of fun.

A pét-nat among your bestselling bottles?
That was a surprising twist. It’s a combination of trust, then price point. Pét-nats are a little bit different, and they are also at a much more approachable price point. I don’t have a ton of budget Champagne-method bottles on the list. Pét-nats are fun and an interesting thing to push people into.

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