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Wine — BYOB

Tampa BYOB

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

We put together this list of Tampa restaurants that will let you bring your own bottle of wine for a fee. Remember to 1. always buy the wine from us. 2. Tip your server as if you purchased the wine from them. May want to call ahead to confirm. Info is accurate to the best of our knowledge.

In no particular order:

Pane Rustica 

$15

Elevage 
$25

Haven
$25 for normal 750ml, bigger $45

Mise-en-Place
$30

Sakana Sushi
$15

Spain Restaurant & Toma Bar 
$15

Restaurant BT
Not allowed

Roster & The Till 
$20 for the first, $25 for the second, $30 for the third, etc

The Refinery
$15

Ruth Chris Steakhouse (Westshore. Locations may vary)
$15

Charlies Steakhouse
$20

Seasons 52
$30

Noble Rice 
$25

Edison Food & Drink Lab 
$20; if you buy one there, its waived, 1bottle limit per table of 4

Cena 
$20

Osteria Natalina
$20

Yummy House South
$0

Ava 
$15

Byblos
$30

On Swan
$25

Donatello Italian Restaurant 
$35

717 South
$20

Timpano Italian Chophouse
$25

220 East 
$10

Shula's Steakhouse 
$25 (usually don't charge)

Columbia Restaurant (Ybor) 
Not allowed

Bavaro's Pizza (downtown Tampa) 
$0

Fabrica 
$15

Fly Bar & Restaurant 
$15

Eddie V's Prime Seafood
$25 per bottle

Ocean Prime
First $0, second and third $20 each, no more than 3

The Capital Grill (International Plaza) 
$25 per bottle

Ulele 
$20

Cafe Dufrain
$15

Malio's 
$25

Del Frisco's Grill 
$25

Anise Global Gastrobar 
$20

Copyright Craft & Curd 2018 beeches 

Campania

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

[This article is inspired by the theme of local restaurant Trattoria Pasquale's BYOB Big Night dinners this march. We will be doing a free wine tasting on Wednesday 3/9 from 6:00 to 8:00 featuring some of the region's wines. Learn more about Big Night here]

Introduction 

When considering the cuisine of Italy, we need to remember that we're not just dealing with one country but rather twenty very individual regions (with plenty of further distinctions within those regions). No other country has such a diversity of cuisines and styles of wines. We must keep in mind that the food and wine of a particular region evolved together to compliment one and other. To elevate your dining of regional Italian specialties be sure to pair the food with the local wines. 

Enter Campania 

The city of Naples is the capital of Campania. Other areas the region is known for include the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius and the island of Capri. Campania is densely populated both with people and an abundance of agriculture products. If there was an overarching culinary philosophy of the region it may be taking a few exceptional ingredients and presenting them in a simple way (as can be said for many Italian cuisines). 

White Grapes

The main three white grape varieties that you'll see on bottles from this region are Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino and Falanghina. Greco is an ancient grape that is thought to have been brought to the area by the greeks as the name suggests. More interesting is that Greco is thought to have been the progenitor of many Italian white varieties such as Grechetto, Trebbiano, Verdicchio and Garganega (source: Vino Italiano by Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch).  

Greco pairs phenomenally with seafood and vegetable dishes. Recently I drank a glass of Greco with an assortment of Sushi and was amazed how both the wine and the food were elevated. One of the best food and wine pairings I've experienced was a zucchini risotto served with Greco di Tufo at the modern Campanian winery Feudi di San Gregorio. 

It's hard to pinpoint the exact flavors of Greco. It typically gives off a clean sensation with fresh acidity and aromas of underbrush or Mediterranean scrub may be evoked. It often has a slight nuttiness like the next wine we'll be discussing.

Fiano di Avellino - Fiano is the grape out of these three with the greatest ability to age well. It can often have a pine and/or hazelnut quality. They may be slightly austere depended on the style of wine being made. Like Greco it is a great accompaniment to seafood and can also be good with poultry or pork.

Falanghina - the most quaffable of these three grapes makes for a refreshing wine to be sipped poolside or with fresh seafood from a small restaurant. It can sometimes be pretty floral and the acidity is usually vibrant. Falanghina is usually best drunk young as possible. In recent years somewhat of a revival has been taking place with certain producers of this grape increasing their focus on quality (as outlined recently in Italy's most important wine guide Gambero Rosso). So start to look for more serious examples in the near future including the 2014 vintage. 

Italy's Hidden Giant of Red Grapes

Aglianico - the name is tough to pronounce as even most people in the wine business say it incorrectly (including myself at times) alley-an-ico is not the right way to say it. Here is the phonetic breakdown from Italian wine scholar Jeremy Parzen and link to YouTube video with correct pronunciation: ah-L'Yee'Ah-nee-koh. Don't worry if you can't say it, you can still drink it. 

Taurasi DOCG is the most notable area for the production of Agliancio. This grape can be really unforgiving in its youth with wild tannins and rich, dark earthy flavors - almost like taking a mouthful of dirt! If you wish to drink a younger one early it can withstand and benefit from decanting for multiple hours (provided it's a high quality wine). The best Taurasi's can age for many decades or even an entire century. The critic Antonio Galloni recently tasted a 1928 from pioneering producer and says that is drinking incredibly and should continue to drink well through 2030! Aglianico rightly deserves a place among Italy's most prestigious wines. 

The best way to learn about the cuisine of Campania (outside of visiting the region) is by attending one of the Big Night dinners this month. Be sure to see us for your Italian wine needs to bring to Trattoria Pasquale and beyond. We currently have a Greco di Tufo in stock from winery Benito Ferrara and we have their Fiano di Avellino arriving Friday 3/4 along with more wines from Campania. 

Upcoming Tastings & Hahn SLH Pinot Noir on Cover of Wine Spectator

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

Hello everyone,

We're gearing up for our California v. Europe tasting this Friday (6:00 to 8:00, $10 per person). I don't think we're going to have the same wall-busting turnout we had two weeks ago because I've been a little less aggressive in the marketing and there's no beer component to this one.

Next Wednesday we're going to do a free tasting featuring some wines from the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. You've heard me talk about the excellent restaurant on Manhattan Ave. called Trattoria Pasquale. Well they're featuring the rich cuisine of said region in their special February BYOB dinners. Learn more about that at the bottom of this email but first I'd like to give you a sneak preview of Friday's tasting.

Hahn is winery based in an area within Monterey County known as Santa Lucia Highlands. It was Hahn that lead the push to establish SLH as an appellation or American Viticultural Area (the term we use for designated wine growing areas). This is a region for high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the two grapes of probably the world's most interesting and complex wine region Burgundy, France. America's most influential glossy wine magazine the Wine Spectator just glorified Hahn's SLH Pinot by showcasing it on their cover and rating it an outstanding 92 points. Here's the review:

92 points Wine Spectator, SMART BUY
"Impressive, showing density, concentration, depth and persistence, with layers of blackberry, mocha, cedar, spice and berry pie. Finishes with a strong presence. Drink now through 2021." James Laube

Hahn lists this Pinot on their website for $30 but we are able to sell it for only $19.99 until the distributor get's slick and tries to raise the price because of the good press.

This is easily my favorite Pinot Noir in the store under $25. I highly recommend picking some up even if you can't make it to the tasting on Friday. (by the way, my favorite Pinot under $15 is Sola which I've mentioned in a previous email recently)

Also on Friday we're going to taste Hahn's SLH Chardonnay - which is barrel fermented and can compete with pricier names like Rombauer and with more finesse. Smith & Hook is their Cabernet that we'll be pouring as well as their Merlot - forget about how you "don't like Merlot" and give it a shot. It's a solid bottle of wine. We'll also be pouring a non-Hahn Cabernet on Friday called Lodi Estates that I think may overtake the Smith & Hook Cabernet in popularity. We'll just have to see...There will be other California wines besides Hahn and I'll be pouring some dynamite stuff from Europe which I'll talk about in the email Friday. Going to be a fun night.

Back to Trattoria Pasquale. In order to get invited to their 'Big Night' dinners you first need to sign up for their mailing list here. If you want to reserve for next month, email Luigi right away at bolzano64@hotmail.com as the dates get booked quickly. Please tell them that Craft & Curd sent you - Luigi was kind enough to mention us to his email list. It's yet to be seen if he takes my suggestion to start doubling the corkage fee for all non-Italian wines brought to his restaurant. I saw some appalling bottles being drunk at the Umbria 'Big Night' and my mission is to change that.

Here are the dates for February:

Sunday February 21
Monday February 22
Sunday February 28
Monday February 29


Dinner starts at 7:30. I believe the cost is around $40 for 7 courses and their corkage fee for the bottles you bring is very modest. Please confirm with them and tip the servers extra as is customary when you bring your own wine.

The inspiration for these dinners is a film from 1996 with the same name Big Night. Stanley Tucci (with hair, yuk!) plays the maître d in a restaurant that he came to America with his brother (the Chef) to found. The struggle that they discovered speaks to me and I'm sure it speaks to Luigi all to well. Their customers saw Italian food as consisting of just spaghetti and meatballs - whereas the diversity of the regional cuisines of Italy is vast. People didn't get and we're not open to the food they served which put them in jeopardy of going out of business even though their food was remarkable.

Tucci's character has the pragmatic desire to give the people what they want while the Chef would rather expel guests than to give them a side of pasta with their seafood risotto.

I feel the pull of both of these dynamics every single day and luckily I'm a little more Tucci than the chef. Many people just want the spaghetti and meatballs - I'll let you imagine what grape I'm using that as a metaphor for, no naming names - but there is a whole world of beautiful, life enriching options out there. Don't forget your sense of curiosity.  

Hopefully as the business continues to grow, I can keep increasing the amount of Chef in me and continue to decrease (not eliminate) my inner Tucci. I promise to not kick anyone out for only drinking Cabernet (OK I said it). 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go taste some California Cabernets to consider purchasing for the store. Ciao.

10 Wine Resolutions for 2016

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

Welcome to 2016. While I love change, resolutions are not something I generally partake in due to their nature of shattering on week or day 3. Nevertheless, here are some resolutions that I feel will enhance your wine drinking and are much easier to keep than that low carb diet you're contemplating.

"Wine is a grocery not a luxury" This is a wise quote from a Master Sommelier named Richard Betts. If you go to Italy, wine is something that is just always on the table, like bread, olive oil or salt. It's not something that necessarily demands to be contemplated by continuously sticking your nose in the glass (I'm guilty) and spewing off what you perceive to be present. Wine is intended to make the meal more enjoyable, to make the conversation more animated and for the enrichment of that thing we're often oblivious to. Everyday life.

Don't buy wine where you buy your groceries - Yes, of course I'm not partial here but I am concerned about your best interest unlike grocers when it comes to wine. Their prices are high, the majority of wines they purchase without even tasting and usually there is no one there to assist you with any questions. I'm not just saying shop at Craft & Curd (although that would be nice), I'd recommend a number of other independent wine shops around the Bay where you're better off shopping than in a chain. Not because of some abstract concept like supporting small businesses is good but because it is in your best interest. One known exception: BOGO free on wines you know you like.

Try something new - I was very fortunate that when I got into wine over fifteen years ago, I wanted to taste everything and didn't  get stuck on one type (OK Argentine Malbec but that was because of the women of Argentina). This promiscuity - with wine that is - lead me to the conviction that I would spend a significant part of my life learning about and working with wine. Wine is a great way to learn about the world. I wouldn't have a clue where to look for Wisconsin (sorry cheese curd customers) on our map but my knowledge of the map of Italy is beyond keen. Look, I can't force people to not just drink Napa Cabernet (I know, I've tried) but please give something different a chance some of the time. You never know what you'll find.

Drink wines of place - The French have a word with no English equivalent (many words, I'm sure) called Terroir which refers to what degree a wine exhibits the characteristics of where it comes from. This is what makes wine so fascinating to me and most of the people who truly fall in love with the stuff (the alcohol part doesn't hurt either). It is nearly impossible to replicate the taste of traditionally made Rioja or Chianti Classico anywhere else in the world besides those regions. Even when other areas use the same grapes that make up those wines, it still can't be mistaken for the original the majority of the time. Terroir can get extremely detailed like tasting the differences in one vineyard plot versus another with all other factors being equal except for say one is planted on chalk the other limestone.

Engage your local wine shop - "Hey Tom, I'm having curried lamb for dinner, what should I drink with it?" "Hey Tom, can you recommend 6 obscure European wines for a dinner party I'm throwing and put together cliff notes so I sound sophisticated." "Hey Tom, can you look at this wine list from a restaurant we're visiting in NY and tell me what looks good?" Yes, yes, yes. I'm here for you, use me (preferably via email or in person, I share the millennial's phone phobia). I've been in this business for a while, have read tons of books and while I forget a lot, I still have enough wine info in my head to bore a grown man to tears.

BYOB to Restaurants - Not everyone knows this but many restaurants allow you to bring your own bottles and will charge you what's called a corkage fee usually consisting of $10 or so (some restaurants like Ocean Prime, believe it or not, waive the fee). I was just reading something about restaurant wine sales still being stuck in the economic turmoil that started in 2008 - I don't find this surprising. Admittedly, I don't fully understand the dynamics of why restaurant prices need to be where they are but I do know that I'm not paying $60 for a wine that I know can be bought retail for $20. No way. I eat in restaurants that are BYOB friendly or get takeout so I can drink whatever I like with the food without having to read a wine list that was written by a distributor and have thoughts of the amazing bottle of wine I could have been drinking if I spent that money elsewhere. A few things to keep in mind, don't stop at Trader Joe's for some of that 3 buck Chuck or whatever it's called nowadays. Bring something special. Make sure not to bring something that's on their list and tip the server as if you had purchased the bottle from them.

Did I say 10? Well sorry that's all I got. Thanks for reading. Don't forget there is no tasting this week but don't let that stop you from stopping by to pickup a bottle or two of something different.