Going 10 Rounds With Sommelier Joe Robitaille
The head sommelier at New York’s acclaimed Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “A Reissdorf Kölsch-style beer. After thinking deeply about wine all day, I just want something cold and crisp.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.””
Name the first good wine you ever drank and where you had it. “Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere Pessac-Leognan 2000, which I drank in San Francisco at this little pizza place on Divisadero when I was a graduate student. I had good wine before that, but that wine was the one that lit me on fire and gave me the wine bug.”
What book on wine, cocktails, spirits or food is your go-to resource? “Making Sense of Burgundy by Matt Kramer for wine, The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock for spirits and cocktails, and Heritage by Sean Brock for food.”
Name the wine region that took you the longest to truly understand. “Burgundy. It’s relatively easy to get a quick understanding of the region, but when you really dig into it, it’s a lifetime of learning.”
What’s your favorite wine and food pairing? “I love drinking great Beaujolais with roast chicken, for me, that’s perfect. The freshness of the wine, served a bit cool, is just perfect with the chicken. I remember the first time I went to Europe, and had poulet de Bresse with a beautiful bottle of Jean Foillard Fleurie Beaujolais Wine. I was sitting outside on a patio near the vines—that experience was extraterrestrial.”
What’s the most common wine myth you have to debunk? “That all rosé should be pale in color. There are beautiful rosé wines that are a touch darker. Also, I hear a lot that all rosé should be consumed young, while many actually age beautifully.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine under $20? “Franck Balthazar Côtes-du-Rhône. It’s unbelievable wine for the quality. Organic fruit from one of the best growers in the Northern Rhône. Beautiful fresh syrah.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine over $1,000? “I once had the good fortune to drink a bottle of Gentaz-Dervieux Côte-Rôtie ‘Cote Brune’ 1981. That was an unbelievable beauty. I hope I never forget that experience.”
What tool do you use to open a bottle? “A double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew.”
Interview has been condensed and edited.