The Discerning BYOBer: Union Square Wines' Seth White Recommends Pairings for Common Cuisines
BYOB restaurants encourage diners to bring along a bottle of wine from home, but how do you select the perfect pairing for a meal you haven’t even ordered yet? Seth White, sales manager at Union Square Wines, shared the following tips for matching wines with common BYOB cuisines.
“Champagne is probably my best recommendation," Seth says without missing a beat when I asked what to bring to a sushi joint. The key is to let the relatively delicate flavors of the fish shine through, and the freshness of a sparkling wine helps complement the rolls and nigiri. Along the same lines, Seth says that the crispness of a sauvignon blanc can have a similarly harmonious effect.
BYOB Testing Ground: Cherin Sushi | East Village
Dealing with spicy cuisine can be tricky, and in those cases, Seth warns against selecting a fuller-bodied, tannic wine, which can intensify the incendiary flavors and overwhelm the rest of the dish. To play it safe, he suggests choosing a lighter, fruit-forward red such as a low-tannin pinot noir or a beaujolais. The slight sweetness of an off-dry riesling can also balance out spice for diners who prefer white wine or detergent-commercial actors who already spent the day spilling red wine everywhere.
BYOB Testing Ground: Amarin Café | Williamsburg
Barbecue and Burgers
"Syrah, especially from the northern Rhône Valley, tends to have a smoky, meaty quality itself," Seth says. That makes it an ideal choice for a platter of pulled pork. Zinfandels also work well with grilled meats, and they share syrah's medium-bodied structure and relatively full flavors. "Zinfandel and a burger—can't beat that," he says.
BYOB Testing Ground: the pulled-pork sandwich at Queens Comfort | Astoria
Seth says the toppings matter, but it's the sauce that he comments on first. Since tomato sauce lends its own small burst of acidity, you'll need a wine that has the natural acidity to match. "I tend to pair [Italian wines] with pizza," Seth says, calling out sangiovese-based Tuscan blends and barberas as particularly good choices. Of course, the toppings are important. Seth says that pies with fatty meats like sausage can stand up to a slightly more robust southern Italian red, whereas vegetarian pizzas might not require something quite so bold.
BYOB Testing Ground: Bellini Italian Restaurant & Brick Oven Pizza | Upper West Side