"So, what are we drinking?" an important if not crucial question posed on any given night at any given Standard. For the wine decider, the answer is triangulated by price, color, and grape. Luckily, not a whole lot could go wrong when the list at hand has been selected by someone like Ashley Santoro, The Standard, East Village's Wine Director.
Sure, she can pair your Porterhouse with your Pinot, but what about something more conceptual? What bottle best highlights the patrician notes of the East Side? The punk rock ethos of the East Village? Join us, won't you, on this oeniphilic tour of Manhattan.
'Hood: Upper West Side
Spirit Film: Annie Hall (1977)
STANDARD CULTURE: Fairway vs. Zabars is a team sport for Upper West Siders. What goes with a "classic six" on West End Avenue?
ASHLEY SANTORO: There’s a bit of a cultural difference between the northern part of the UWS and the southern half (think Jerry Seinfeld the TV show vs. where Jerry lives now), but I think Piedmont can cover it all. Something like the Burlotto Dolcetto d'Alba 2012 ($12 a glass at Café Standard). The wine is full of dark fruit notes with great structure and complexity.
...For those with prime park views, splurge on the Pio Cesare, Barolo 1978, also from Piedmont. Here you have nebbiolo drinking at its prime from one of the oldest producers in the region ($300 at Narcissa).
'Hood: Upper East Side
Spirit Film: Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
SC: Where new money comes to look old. What's a bottle that would convince people I'm the son of Sidney Poitier?
AS: I would go with a Bordeaux, a region full of history, prestige, old-school manners, and even older money. Château Cos d’Estournel, St. Estèphe, 2ème Cru 2005 ($570 at Narcissa).
'Hood: Chelsea/Hell's Kitchen
Spirit Film: West Side Story (1961)
SC: Gallery openings, dinner before a Broadway show, picnicking on the High Line, or pre-gaming before VIVA, a versatile white is the order of the day. What pairs with trendy Thai restaurants?
AS: For sheer diversity and variety, I would go with something from the Canary Islands. The Fronton de Oro, Malpais 2012 from Gran Canaria is light, smoky, floral ($55 at Narcissa) and a great value, perfect for a sunny day in NYC. The islands have some of the most unique terroir of all vine-growing regions, with volcanic ash dominating most vineyards.
'Hood: West Village
Spirit Film: The Hours (2002)
SC: It was, once-a-upon-a-time, a hotbed of American radicals and artistic revolution. Now there are...cupcakes and 10 million-dollar townhouses. What can we bring for dinner at Julianne Moore’s?
AS: If you want to impress, go for a Grand Cru Burgundy. Top Burgundy is exclusive; you need to be well-informed and know the right people to get the best. We have a Meo Camuzet, Échezeaux, Grand Cru 2008 ($460 at Narcissa). The Camuzet family have been acquiring vineyards since the early 1900s and bottle nothing short of greatness.
SC: What about for the studio apartment set?
AS: No need to venture out of Burgundy – the Jean Marc & Laurent Pillot, Mercurey, En Sazenay 2012 ($90 Narcissa) is an incredible alternative with a more approachable price point. The Pillot brothers are 5th generation winemakers who are known for making some of the purest Pinot in the region.
'Hood: East Village
Spirit Film: 200 Cigarettes (1999)
SC: What's a handsome wine for the independent spirit who just moved back from Williamsburg?
AS: There is a similar sort of edginess and eclecticism that France’s Loire Valley and the East Village both share. No matter how they both develop and change, each manages to remain avant-garde in its own way. We have a Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Domaine de la Pépière ($11/glass at Café Standard and Narcissa.
Spirit Film: After Midnight (1985)
SC: Patti Smith is coming over to the loft for dinner. Help!
AS: Natural wine for sure. Region doesn’t matter, as long as it’s pure, potentially volatile, and defies the norm. Strohmeier, Rot 5 NV from Austria ($100 at Narcissa). All native yeasts, no added enzymes or nutrients, and a strong focus on vineyard biodiversity, Strohmeier’s ideals are as natural as it gets. This is a blend of Wildbacher & Zweigelt - full of dark fruit and savory notes with a touch of funk.
Spirit Film: Igby Goes Down (2002)
SC: The hood of Wall Street’s rising (and risen) moguls as well as Soul Cycle’s über-taut peddlers. Often the same person. What pairs with Bloomberg terminals and Lululemon?
AS: I see Tribeca and the Napa Valley having a lot in common. While there’s a lot of tradition, there’s also a varnish that makes them feel particularly modern. I recommend the Bond, Proprietary Blend, St. Eden 2010 ($750 Narcissa).
Spirit Film: Sex and the City (2002-?)
SC: What champagne goes with sparklers and selfie sticks?
AS: I don’t think there’s a champagne house that exudes luxury and splendor more than Moët & Chandon. If you’re going to go that route, do it right with a Moët & Chandon, Dom Perignon 2004. ($355 at Narcissa and Café Standard).
Ashley Santoro is the former wine director of Casa Mono & Bar Jamón and the current wine director at The Standard, East Village. Ashley fell in love with wine after college, when a case of post-graduate confusion led her to Umbria, where she lived and worked (but mostly ate and drank). Her experiences in Italy led her back to the U.S. and into a career in wine. In addition to her work at The Standard, Ashley also devotes time to travelling and teaching wine courses. She has been featured in numerous of publications including the New York Times an dWine & Spirits Magazine, among others.