Master sommelier Laura Maniec’s much-anticipated new wine bar/school gives experts and novices innovative ways to explore the grape.
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Wine-pairing classes are easy to come by, but there aren’t many places where you’ll learn which wine goes best with french fries. In fact, if you’re like me, you might not know that there is a best wine for fries.
Enter Corkbuzz Wine Studio, a heavily anticipated new wine bar–meets–wine school that opened this week near Union Square. The brainchild of master sommelier Laura Maniec, Corkbuzz offers classes on topics such as wines to pair with take-out foods (in which you’ll find the answer to the french fry riddle), along with a private-event space, Sunday suppers, and 35 wines by the glass ($9 to $50) at the wine bar. “So, after you’ve learned all about this Barolo, you don’t have to go somewhere else to enjoy it,” Maniec says.
Also, unlike your typical wine bar, Corkbuzz serves a full menu, which ranges from bar snacks (think olives and almonds) to heartier dishes like braised short ribs (to balance out a full-bodied Cabernet) and—Maniec’s favorite—sautéed mushrooms with crispy pork ears and radishes paired with a nice Burgundy.
We sat down with Maniec to learn a bit more about her favorites…
Which wines are staples in your own cellar?
I always have Champagne—it is my favorite, and I am known to bring it to every party. My favorite of the five wine-producing districts of Champagne is the Aube region, where my find of the moment is Vouette et Sorbèe. I also always carry Chablis, because I think it is one of the best white wines that pairs well with everything; Austrian Rieslings; savory, smoky, peppery wines from the northern Rhône region; and I always keep some sort of Italian wine on hand because my friends all love them.
What are some of the exciting things that will be happening at Corkbuzz in the coming months?
Every couple of months we will host a cellar grab, where you can choose a price point ($100, $150, or $300), and then go into the cellar and pick any wine from that section, blindly. The rack will be composed of wines slightly above that price, so you’ll be getting a discount no matter what, and it is really fun. You feel as if you’re raiding your friend’s wine cellar.
What did you hope to do differently from everyone else when you conceived of Corkbuzz?
The idea is just to get people to walk away having a conversation about wine. I wanted to create an approachable environment, where people could come in and learn what they like, no matter what their level of knowledge, and not worry about people turning their noses up. I want someone to come in and say, “I only like white Zinfandel,” which we do not carry on the menu, and for us to be able to give them a few other bright and sweet alternatives, and help them discover something new that they like.
So, which wine does pair best with french fries?
Champagne. The bright acidity paired with anything fried works because the acid from the Champagne cuts the salt, and the salt cleans the acidity; they work back and forth like this, like popcorn and Coca-Cola at the movies.