I celebrated my first day in Manhattan after Sandy by signing up last minute for the Austrian Wine Dinner at Corkbuzz on Monday night. There were just four of us, due to hurricane related cancellations, which meant we got plenty of one-on-one attention. The wine was all served cool or on ice, which was counter-intuitively refreshing given the cold snap that had befallen the city. This was, in fact, a reminder that sometimes you should go all in when it comes to food, drink, and the weather; hot tea in the tropics; cold vodka in Finland; cool wine in autumn. It felt a little like a seasonal ritual, as Laura Maniec, the restaurant’s agreeable co-owner and sommelier, told us about the frosty temperatures she experienced while picking grapes one late October at a vineyard represented in the tasting.
As usual at this place, there wasn’t a bad dish or indifferent wine in the mix, and two of the pairings are alive in my mouth to the moment of this writing. The wine nearest us in the photo – a “Lagler 1000 Eimerberg Reisling Smaragd 2010” (Wachua) – was served with a slightly crunchy herbed spaetzle, topped with a ragout of three types of mushroom. The combination was so good that I kept a small pool of the wine in my mouth before each bite in order to experience the symbiosis of flavors, of hot and cold, of crumbly and smooth.
It was, as Maniec accurately described it, a wine with texture, almost like olive oil in its consistency. This was so true that it crossed my mind that it might not have been a bad idea to drizzle a bit of it over the spaetzle. The other pairing still on my tongue – of the other bottle in the picture, a “Heidi Schrock (‘On the Wings of Dawn’) Ausbruch 2008” (Burgenland), with an apple strudel – was a complementary tour de force, warm and cool, crisp and smooth, sweet and savory. The wine was made from dried, crushed, musty grapes, tasting of leeks and onions, which played off the brown sugar sweetness of the strudel in a truly amazing way.
As you can tell from these descriptions, the meal had a distinctly Austrian cast, more so than the dishes at the Spanish Wine Dinner last month had a Spanish one. As happened at both dinners, however, there was an extra kick of hot spice added by Corkbuzz’s Korean chef, in this case to a pork and red cabbage course. It worked, like everything else in the dinner, exceptionally well.
For information about hours, menus, classes and wine dinners at Corkbuzz click here.