ALDO SOHM’S GUIDE TO DRINKING RED WINE
As the temperatures drop, cravings for red wine spike. We asked Aldo Sohm, sommelier at Le Bernardin and namesake behind the Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, for his advice on what red wine to drink, where to drink it, and what questions to ask a sommelier.
New and Noteworthy
At the Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, the list of wines by the glass is constantly evolving. “If I see something interesting, I put it on,” Aldo says. “The list is changing all the time.” Recently, Pinot Noir from Germany (a dry, light red) has grabbed his attention. “No one associates Pinot Noir with Germany,” he says. “It’s fresh and delicate, but that doesn’t mean it’s short.”
For a Pinot Noir from Germany—Aldo recommends: Spatburgunder, Buntsandstein, Benedikt Baltes 2016.
What to Drink this Fall and Winter
As the weather cools, Aldo’s cravings change. “This year I’m looking forward to wines with a bit of age to them—like Bordeaux wines from the ’90s.” Wines from the northern part of Piedmont including Barolo and Barbaresco are also personal favorites. “These wines have a power, finesse, and elegance,” Aldo says. “I grew up not so far away from there—near the snow-covered Alps, the air is so crisp and clear.”
For Bordeaux from the ’90s—Aldo recommends: Chateau Gombaude-Guillot, Pomerol 1999.
For a wine from Piedmont—Aldo recommends: Gattinara, Petterino, Piedmont 2004.
What Customers Want Now
More than ever before, customers are interested not just in the taste of the wine, but in the story behind it. “There’s currently a focus on craftsmanship,” Aldo says. “Young, dynamic producers are popping up more and more—such as Comando G, from west of Madrid, making high elevation Grenache.” Instead of wines that are too oaked or taste too uniform, customers are gravitating towards unusual wines that grab you from the first sip. Aldo calls these, “wines that make you think.”
For a wine that makes you think—Aldo recommends: Marsala Superiore, Marco de Bartoli, Sicily 1987.
How to Pick Red Wine
When opening a wine list, where do you begin narrowing down options? “Questions are a good thing,” Aldo says. “Ask a question and you start a conversation, then I can find what you’re looking for.” Aldo asks his guests about their mood, the last wine they drank that they truly loved, and price range; he loves to hear questions from customers like, Can you give me something new? What’s grabbed your interest recently?
For when customers ask for something new—Aldo recommends: Mencia from Galicia; Castro Candaz, Ribeira Sacra a Boca do Demo 2015.
New York City: Where to Drink
“The best wine bars all have one thing in common: they don’t take themselves too seriously,” Aldo says. When it comes to favorite wine bars in New York City, you might find Aldo raising a glass at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (“a happy place with an active, engaged staff”), Racines (“they always have new stuff, and are very educational and open”) or Ardesia (“it’s a very comfortable, calm space with great food”).
For when a customer asks for a local New York state wine—Aldo recommends: Cabernet Franc, Paumonk, North Fork Long Island 2016.
WORDS Jessica Colley Clarke