What to Drink in 2014: 13 Chefs and Critics Picks
From Eastern European wines to Barolo to beer in the shower, here are what 13 top critics, chefs, and sommeliers are excited about drinking this year.
Perusing PUNCH Drink’s Instagram feed a few days ago, I stumbled upon a fantastic snapshot of Miller High Life, clasped firmly in a drenched, shadowy grip amidst steam, dramatic light and water cascading from a showerhead. The caption: “Not dry January.”
Every New Year, people begin to pontificate on the health benefits of swearing off booze in exchange for lemon-tinged water and liquid kale. That’s all well-intentioned (and to be fair, many of my mornings start with a trip to The Juice Press). But the New Year is also about planning ahead, refining a longer-term vision of balance and sustainability.
So anyway. This piece draws inspiration from that particular Miller High Life, a visual statement about letting loose and finding enjoyment in tasks as familiar as a shower and beverages as accessible as a beer. It also put the January “cleanse” into hilarious perspective. More than anything, that photo got me thinking about what I want to drink more of in 2014.
If I bring a beverage into the shower, it will probably be a Thunderpeach, a wine cooler we’re making from Riesling and peaches and serving at Booker + Dax.
But for greater perspective, I asked some friends who drink delicious things regularly what they’re going to drink more of in 2014.
Kate Krader, restaurant editor Food & Wine
I want more simplicity in my life so I’m drinking more simple things—like cocktails that have equal parts ingredients so I’ll always remember what’s in them—like the Negroni, and the gin-based Last Word.
And for wine—I’m going to try and only buy a couple—but they have to be versatile and go with just about anything I’m serving. I’m thinking Sancerre & West Coast Pinot Noir.
Eric Asimov, Chief Wine Critic, The New York Times
Cleansing and detox, don’t make me laugh! Good food and wine are elements of a healthy, enjoyable life, not guilty pleasures.
As for me, I just wrote a column with the resolution to drink adventurously, and I meant that sincerely for myself. I get so much joy from discovering for myself new wines, new grapes and new producers, yet it’s always easy to fall back on familiar pleasures. As a drinker, my resolution is to be experimental, and, as a writer, never to regurgitate conventional wisdom unless I can confirm it for myself. If I were to be more specific about regions, this year I am particularly curious about the wines of Eastern Europe and to continue exploring as best I can American wines outside the mainstream.
Raj Vaidya, chef sommelier at Daniel
I am drinking a lot more Green Chartreuse lately, the sugar rush is quickly followed by a warming tone and such complex bitterness that I can’t get enough. I was inspired to drink more this winter when a friend of mine convinced a restaurateur in France to adapt his Crepes Suzette recipe to use Chartreuse instead of Grand Marnier for the flambé. A genius idea, but it is important to note that Yellow Chartreuse is better in the flambé, paired with Green to drink alongside!
Levi Dalton, sommelier and host of “I’ll Drink to That” Podcast
It’s winter, so Piemonte dreamin’ is my style. I like some iron in my wines this time of year. Makes me feel like I’ve gone to the gym, even when it is too cold outside to go to the gym. Wines that have cut, even when the tannins are off the scale, they come right with the kind of lamb dishes and stews I eat during the chilly nights. So Serralunga or Monforte Barolo if my wallet is bulging, or Dolcetto is more likely on a weeknight.
Dustin Wilson, Master Sommelier at Eleven Madison Park
I will be drinking more Champagne this year—more of the grower producers specifically. The region continues to fascinate me and the number of interesting producers keeps growing and growing. Plus it’s just fun!
Branden McRill, General Manager + Partner at Pearl + Ash
I’ll be drinking more cider when spring comes back around as its one of my favorite go to sippers with light spring dishes. Specifically dry ciders like the Steampunk Cider from Leaonard Oakes Estate in Lyndonville, NY. As opposed to traditionally sweet ciders, it’s a little bitter and tangy.
Another is the Sarasola cider from Astigarraga, Spain. This cider is bone dry and has a really great olive & briny quality that makes it a killer food pairing cider.
Erin Cannon Chave, founder of Erin Cannon Imports (she is also married to winemaker Jean-Louis Chave, who makes world-class wines from Hermitage and Saint-Joseph in the Rhone Valley)
For me, I have to say wines from Saint Joseph. How lucky, I can sip it in both white and red! Saint Joseph white is such a small production and a well-kept secret. Northern Rhone whites are all about mouth feel and texture-not acidity like white Burgundies. Many people forget this so they don’t understand why the whites aren’t bracing, steely and acid driven. It is the aromas of apricot, almond and white peach coupled with the texture and minerality of St. Joseph Blanc which make it a perfect apéro to “ouvrir l'appetit” as the French would say. As for the red St. Joseph, how can you go wrong? The Northern Rhone is the birthplace for Syrah. This is Syrah which sings of its soil-a Syrah made with balance, restraint, and purity. St. Joseph has notes of violets, rose, bacon and a brambly backbone that makes your mouth water. It is the perfect wine to invite to the table. All that said, I’m so glad it is noon and I can dive into un plat du jour and a glass of Saint Joseph!
Sean Gray (Momofuku Ko):
Water! And more sour beers…I’m trying to trend off gravitating towards IPA’s.
Patrick Curran (Momofuku Noodle Bar)
South American wines…in particular more from Piero Incisa’s Bodega Chacra in Rio Negro, Patagonia.
Matt Rudofker (Momofuku Ssam Bar)
La Stoppa, in Emilia-Romana is one of my favorite wineries right now. The Ageno and Trebbiano are two of my favorites. And they’re at a great price point.
Jessica Brown, wine director at The Breslin + The John Dory, and Thomas Pastuszak Wine Director at NoMad (they’re engaged)
This year we are looking forward to drinking more of the wine we have put away over the last nine years. It is always so interesting and important to let wines age and to be able to taste the wines over the course of their evolution. It’s also fun to see your own palate changes since you first begin drinking wine. There are wines we put away when we first got into wine that are not our style now and ones that have completely surprised and wowed us.
Talia Baiocchi, Editor-in-Chief of PUNCH, Author of Sherry, fall 2014
What I’ll be drinking more of: Italian wine. It was Barolo and the regional wines of Italy that I fell in love with first and they remain a sort of grab bag of nostalgia for me—wherein I can relive some of those moments that remind me why I ended up in wine. But like so many of us in the wine world are guilty of, my hunger to experience wines from all over the world has left me neglecting my home base the most. So, 2014 is about coming home to these wines and reveling in one of the greatest things a wine can be: familiar. And there is nothing more familiar to me than the simple pleasures of, say, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Barbera d’Alba, or Greco di Tufo.
I’ll remain this coming year, and likely for the rest of my life, a student of sherry—and, in a greater sense, Andalucia, Spain. There is no wine that defies an easy explanation quite so well, and very few regions whose history and cultural experience is reflected so literally in its wines.
I will also be drinking more beers in the shower.