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Monday, September 25, 2023

Enjoy field research with glass in hand

S.W. and Rich Hermansen
Guest Writers

While conducting field research for Wine Times, we observe that many people bar-hop. Although what they are doing looks a lot like our field research, three key differences distinguish our field research from bar-hopping: we have to maintain our focus after tasting several glasses of wine; and, we have to write notes for fear of forgetting something….

Wine bars offer an ideal setting for our field research. Outstanding wine bars have flights of wine that one may sample and enjoy with small plate food pairings. Barcelona wine bars have fourteen locations in the USA: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Bartender Ron Jackson at the Cathedral Heights DC location recommended a flight of three obscure Spanish and Italian wines ($16). The young Diorama White Grenache from the Penedes regions of Spain and the Sicilian 2019 Abisso Cataratto Bianco with Boquerones (fresh anchovies in vinaigrette and olive oil) pair into a taste sensation. A light 2018 Biografico Uva de Vida Tempranillo from La Mancha Spain enhances the taste of a spinach and chickpeas served in a cazuela, a small casserole dish. A list of four hundred wines and thirty-five small tapas plates entice a curious person to try many combinations.

Any bar serving small plates and appetizers and an adequate list of fine wines by the glass qualifies, as we see it, as a wine bar. In a surprise turn, the owner of the Venezia Restaurant on St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota, Rafael Miccio, suggested as an aperitif a decidedly unusual 2019 McNab Chardonnay from Mendocino California. Served in the crush of a crowd during high season, the clean and crisp Chardonnay reminded me of a classic Pouilly Fuisse from Bourgogne region of France. It has none of the cloying buttery, oaky taste of many California Chardonnays. Rafael ventured well outside of the Argentine, Italian box when he added this wine to his list. Good choice.

It pays to check out specials and open bottles at a wine bar. Bartender Megan at the Chart House on Longboat Key recommends the special selection of the 2019 Elouan Pinot Noir that sources grapes from the Oregon Rogue, Willamette, and Umpqua Valleys. The California winemaker Joseph Wagner sold his popular Meiomi brand for a reported $315 million and segued into the higher end Belle Glos and less pricy Boen and Elouan Pinot Noir. The Elouan has a deep red color and intensely tart stone fruit and Marionberry (hybrid blackberry) tastes. Chocolate and white pepper in the tasting notes seem imaginative. Overall the Elouan rates as a step above the usual wine bar.

We look forward to exploring a wider range of wine bars. Our reading of the restaurant and beverage market in the USA tells us that small plates and flights of wine will continue to gain popularity among multiple age groups. Whether you call it bar-hopping or field research, a visit to a wine bar two or more times a week seems likely to replace the suburban habit of dining at a restaurant table once a week.

S. W. Hermansen has used his expertise in econometrics, data science and epidemiology to help develop research databases for the Pentagon, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and Health Resources and Services. He has visited premier vineyards and taste wines from major appellations in California, Oregon, New York State, and internationally from Tuscany and the Piedmont in Italy, the Ribera del Duero in Spain, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale in Australia, and the Otego Valley in New Zealand. Currently he splits time between residences in Chevy Chase, Maryland and St. Armand’s Circle in Florida.

Rich Hermansen selected has first wine list for a restaurant shortly after graduating from college with a degree in Mathematics. He has extensive service and management experience in the food and wine industry. Family and friends rate him as their favorite chef, bartender, and wine steward. He lives in Severna Park, Maryland.

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