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Asimov vs. Cuozzo - Battle Royale


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#1 joethefoodie

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 01:02 AM

In one of his crankier pieces, Cuozzo rants on about various things he dislikes about the restaurants he appears to be forced to go to.  Actually, most of us agree with much of what he's whining about; actually, most of us probably whined about it here on MFF before he stole our ideas.  But what's funny is his rant yesterday about natural wines:

 

 
Natural wine lovers are cultish in their enthusiasm for funky vinos made without additives or filtration, but they’re not for everyone.  

At the new Frenchette in Tribeca, wine director Jorge Riera is proud that the hundreds of bottles on offer are all natural, but such a classically modeled bistro needs more options. Those who prefer what “natural” proponents deplore as “industrial wine” — i.e., the kind most of us have loved all our lives — are left thirsty.

 

 

 

 

Compare that with Eric Asimov's piece in today's Times:

 

 

Instead, Frenchette has gone off the rails, charting a completely different course. The wine director, Jorge Riera, has put together a list that is entirely, uncompromisingly, focused on natural wines, a controversial genre in which the grapes are farmed organically at the least, and the wine produced with minimal artifice or manipulation.

 

In short, it’s a challenging list that may annoy some people who want recognizable names, yet is also brilliant. Mr. Riera, the wine director who came to Frenchette from Contra and Wildair, has built a list full of wonderful discoveries, great values and the sort of direct, unmediated experiences that characterize natural wines at their best. Almost all the wines are low in alcohol as well, 13 percent or less, and they go very well with the cuisine.

 

 

 

To each his or her own, I guess.

 



#2 Sneakeater

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 06:07 AM

Although I agree with him, I think that Asimov piece is kind of faux-naif.  If you were going to open a restaurant like Frenchette in 2018 Manhattan, OF COURSE you'd have a natural wine list.  The alternative list he posits would have doomed the restaurant as eternally uncool.


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#3 Orik

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 12:00 PM

Also you'd have a list of $300+ bottles you can't move. 


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#4 Wilfrid

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 04:36 PM

There's space between the all-natural list and the Bordeaux/Burgundy/Super-Tuscan list.  But I agree this makes sense for Frenchette.



#5 Jesikka

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 01:25 PM

Although I agree with him, I think that Asimov piece is kind of faux-naif.  If you were going to open a restaurant like Frenchette in 2018 Manhattan, OF COURSE you'd have a natural wine list.  The alternative list he posits would have doomed the restaurant as eternally uncool.

I wonder if there's a corkage fee at Frenchette?  It is starting to seem to me like if I want classical wines in a restaurant at a below $150 price point it makes more and more sense to just pay corkage.



#6 joethefoodie

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 01:58 PM

 

Although I agree with him, I think that Asimov piece is kind of faux-naif.  If you were going to open a restaurant like Frenchette in 2018 Manhattan, OF COURSE you'd have a natural wine list.  The alternative list he posits would have doomed the restaurant as eternally uncool.

I wonder if there's a corkage fee at Frenchette?  It is starting to seem to me like if I want classical wines in a restaurant at a below $150 price point it makes more and more sense to just pay corkage.

 

 

But Corkage at a lot of "fancier" places these days is very high. Le Coucou gets $100, I think.



#7 Jesikka

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 04:51 PM

 

 

Although I agree with him, I think that Asimov piece is kind of faux-naif.  If you were going to open a restaurant like Frenchette in 2018 Manhattan, OF COURSE you'd have a natural wine list.  The alternative list he posits would have doomed the restaurant as eternally uncool.

I wonder if there's a corkage fee at Frenchette?  It is starting to seem to me like if I want classical wines in a restaurant at a below $150 price point it makes more and more sense to just pay corkage.

 

 

But Corkage at a lot of "fancier" places these days is very high. Le Coucou gets $100, I think.

 

But doesn't the math on that work decently?  You pay $150 to drink a $50 bottle which is fine because its better than the $30 bottle you would have paid $150 for?



#8 Steve R.

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 05:39 PM

$150 on a $50 bottle is 3x markup.  That's a marginal bargain.

$150 on a $30 bottle is 5x markup.  Is that really what they're charging on their list?  Is that acceptable these days, even by us?


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#9 joethefoodie

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 06:13 PM

I think the math works better on a bottle of one's own that may have cost $100-$150+ (and which will probably be selling for $300 or more at the restaurant), or another that's unattainable due to its age, etc. 

 

i mean, if I'm paying $100 to have someone open and pour my bottle, I might as well have spent more than that on the bottle.



#10 Jesikka

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 06:40 PM

$150 on a $50 bottle is 3x markup.  That's a marginal bargain.

$150 on a $30 bottle is 5x markup.  Is that really what they're charging on their list?  Is that acceptable these days, even by us?

That's pretty much what I'm seeing for bottles I know, but you may be aware of retail for more bottles...is that what you're seeing?



#11 Jesikka

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 06:44 PM

I think the math works better on a bottle of one's own that may have cost $100-$150+ (and which will probably be selling for $300 or more at the restaurant), or another that's unattainable due to its age, etc. 

 

i mean, if I'm paying $100 to have someone open and pour my bottle, I might as well have spent more than that on the bottle.

Well, I have a lot of wine like I think most of us have that I spent $30-50 on and have been "cellaring" in a wine fridge for 5-10 years.  That's the stuff I generally bring when I do that, but I very rarely do it - that's generally a thing that I've done for big birthday dinners with chefs I know.

 

But i do think restaurant wine prices are getting crazy enough that the math works even with a $50 bottle right off the shelf, it's just getting your mind to tolerate it.  Somehow it's easier when you don't do the buying yourself and thus it seems like they did more than just "open" it.



#12 Wilfrid

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 11:31 PM

Quite seriously, anyone finds a restaurant consistently marking bottles up 500% should let Pete Wells know. He'd be interested.

#13 Orik

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Posted 24 April 2018 - 06:01 PM

500% would mean 650% after tax and tip, which even people who order $30 glasses of $15 bottles at Atelier JR will find objectionable. 

 

LCC is around 300% across the board. 

 

I think if you order btg at places that encourage that (or offer a wine pairing) you get to around 400%. 


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