John Gizzi and Diann Greco, the American Wine Society–certified wine judges at Make Wine With Us, teach wine aficionados to create their own wines using grapes harvested in Californian and Chilean vineyards. At the start of the nine-month process (California grapes in the fall, Chile grapes in the spring), winemakers-to-be assemble with fellow enthusiasts to learn the intricacies of the trade. Patrons learn to crush and destem grapes in a machine called a crusher-destemmer, named after the device's favorite Germanic metal band. Following the crushing process, a hydraulic press forces juice into barrels, where it shall remain until the conclusion of its sweet, sweet metamorphosis.
At the end of the nine-month period, newly minted winemakers lean on family and friends to fill, cork, and custom-label the finished product. Budding vintners then tote home their vintages to share with family, friends, and robot butlers with built-in carafes.
TThe professional, knowledgeable staff at Vintner’s Circle share their love of the wine lifestyle with hands-on wine classes that teach guests, family, and friends how to bottle wines, distinguish between different varietals, or pair wine with cheese. The shop’s unique winemaking courses take aspiring vintners through the accessible four-step process, which begins with choosing wine juices from a selection of more than 50 internationally sourced varieties. Participants then fill more than two dozen bottles with their own vintage. They can emblazon these bottles with custom-designed labels and colorful tops. Vintner's Circle also stocks a variety of gifts for weddings, holidays, and other special occasions, as well as wine accessories and gifts for wine lovers to enjoy year-round. Wine-education classes, corporate events, and team-building events are also on offer.
Pappardella is just a short walk from Central Park, but it feels like an authentic Italian trattoria. Inside, a colorful mural of Florence sprawls across the walls. The menu sticks to traditional Italian cuisine, using homemade sauces and pastas to craft entrees such as rigatoni bolognese and linguine with roasted Brussels sprouts. Alternatively, diners can sample seared wild king salmon or pollo milanese made with free-range chicken. Pair entrees with a wine bottled directly from a wine river in Italy, or wrap up dinner with a dulcet tiramisu.
The food-and-drink connoisseurs behind 1742 Wine Bar impart the subtleties of vino as customers sip fine wines and tantalize palates with a menu of classic Italian dishes. Thin-crust pizzas support fresh mozzarella and a choice of more than three dozen traditional and inventive toppings, such as jalapeño peppers, zucchini, and smoked gouda. To pair with the kitchen's crispy discs and other Italian classics—from panini to a gnocchi of the day—the staff cull bottles from an inventory that, like a housecat's stratagem for achieving world domination, changes nightly.
French doors and flower boxes welcome diners into a narrow storefront facing the sloping greenery of Ruppert Park. Inside, black-and-white art photography hangs above the dark, wooden bar, which is back-dropped by wooden shelves lined with phalanxes of fine-wine bottles and a full selection of liquor.
Le Rendez Vous Wine Bar's New York sommelier consultant, Doreen Winkler, fans the flames of fun and romantic nights out, pairing bottles of international wine and champagne with delectable hors d'oeuvres. Seated in a candlelit interior with exposed brick walls and velvet-covered furniture, guests can alternate sips of wine with nibbles from a platter of Mediterranean eats, including hummus, cheeses, olives, stuffed grape leaves, and a mix of sweet and hot marinated peppers. The Valentine's Day package helps couples cope with Cupid's protruding arrows by ushering in a decadent platter of caviar, roast beef, fine cheeses, and antipasta sided with two types of mousse tart and effervescent glasses of Pol Roger champagne. Twosomes can take home a box of chocolates or melt morsels into anatomically correct heart shapes over flickering tabletop candles as slow music sets the mood.