Wynn Magazine - - VINE ARTS -

When con­sid­er­ing a bet­ter bot­tle, a lit­tle knowl­edge goes a long way.

My mother al­ways taught me that if you pay for qual­ity, you will be hand­somely re­warded. But when it comes to wine, mak­ing that judg­ment call can be a lit­tle tricky. How does one fig­ure out how to step up one’s wine game with­out it feel­ing like a crap­shoot? Up­grad­ing to a higher-end bot­tle from a wine list can mean a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in qual­ity and your over­all en­joy­ment of a meal, says Wynn’s Di­rec­tor of Wine, Mark Thomas. Some of the more well-known wine re­gions are a good place to start. When it comes to Bordeaux—well rep­re­sented at SW Steak­house—ap­pel­la­tion is worth pay­ing at­ten­tion to. While all reds from Bordeaux tend to be blends of two to five kinds of red grapes, the re­gion is ba­si­cally di­vided by the Gironde River, so fig­ure out which you pre­fer: the vel­vety, sup­ple Mer­lot-heavy right bank or the pow­er­ful and sturdy tan­nins of the left’s Caber­nets. Next, fo­cus on ori­gin, and seek out words like Premier Cru, Grand Cru Classés, or Cru Classés, which will tip you off to the best vine­yards of the best châteaux. Then, of course, there’s vintage—thomas says lauded years like 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2005 are great bets. And an ’03 from right-bank Pomerol is an es­pe­cially good gate­way to lov­ing Bordeaux. Any wine ex­pert will tell you that a fine Bur­gundy is worth the ex­tra in­vest­ment. In spots like Lakeside and SW, Burg-hun­ters can find ex­cep­tional step-up op­tions from Vil­lage (good) to Premier Cru (very good) to Grand Cru (the great­est of the great). “If you’re look­ing at a Vil­lage wine,” says Thomas, “then con­sider a Premier Cru. Then get guid­ance on vintage.” For lovers of Ital­ian, and Barolo in par­tic­u­lar, the wine lists at Bar­tolotta Ris­torante di Mare and Si­na­tra are ver­i­ta­ble vol­umes of vino. What’s in a name can take you far—and for Thomas, that means vine­yards in one of the 11 com­munes of this Pied­mont-based, red wine-cen­tric spot. Look for des­ig­na­tions like Cerequio, Rionda, or Le Coste, or go straight to lauded pro­duc­ers like Gaja. And if Chi­anti (e.g., the grape San­giovese) is your pas­sion, take a step up from Clas­sico to Ris­erva, or even the vine­yard-spe­cific Su­pe­ri­ore. Napa can be just as much of a co­nun­drum as Chi­anti. But Thomas knows the map well and has stocked spots like Botero, SW, and The Coun­try Club with in­cred­i­ble Napa Cabs ripe for the pluck­ing, not­ing that the vine­yards in moun­tain­ous Pritchard Hill are among his fa­vorites. “That real es­tate up there is pretty loaded with the who’s who of wine—in name, qual­ity, and cor­re­lat­ing prices.” Some of his faves: Chap­pel­let, Tim Mon­davi’s Con­tin­uum, and David Arthur. Another great way to up­grade: Sam­ple first. Thomas of­fers the highly al­lo­cated 2007 vintage of M by Michael Mon­davi by the glass at SW Steak­house, Dom Pérignon at the Tower Suite Bar, and flutes of Krug Grand Cu­vée at Botero. La Cave Wine and Food Hide­away of­fers no fewer than 50 wines by the glass. And if you re­ally want to learn more, the new ipad wine list sys­tems at Botero, An­drea’s, and Wing Lei of­fer tast­ing notes plus lots of be­hind-thewine info, like the par­tic­u­lars of the vintage. Left to your own de­vices, mak­ing a good choice on a wine up­grade is a mere fin­ger swipe away. n

Any wine ex­pert will tell you that a great Bur­gundy is worth the ex­tra in­vest­ment.

Browse and dis­cover spe­cial cu­vées such as the Mer­lot-rich Plus de la Fleur de Boüard Bordeaux on the ipad wine lists at An­drea’s ( shown here), Wing Lei, and Botero.

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