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About this Episode

Tina Johansson, WSET Diploma Graduate and Michelin restaurant sommelier, and Robert Tas review the wine list at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa. Bern’s offers a sensational wine list with an extensive selection of renowned wines from around the world, including Hungary and China. They also have a special dining room just for the dessert and paired beverages for a not-to-be-missed way to end a meal. Tina spots a few exceptional bottles on this 200-page list, including one of the best syrahs in the world, and if you want to know the difference between a syrah and a shiraz, Tina explains all in this episode of CorkRules.

Wines reviewed include:

  • 1985 Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage, France

  • 2019 Clonakilla Shiraz, Canberra, Australia

  • Graham’s 30-year-old tawny port

Transcript: Bern's Steakhouse

Cork Rules Script

Bern’s Steak House

RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules!

I’m your host Robert Tas along with Tina Johansson, WSET Diploma Graduate and Michelin restaurant sommelier.

Hi Tina, thanks for being back with us on another episode of CorkRules, - a podcast where we help simplify and demystify the wine lists at some of your favorite restaurants. We talk with certified sommeliers and wine professionals who point out interesting bottles, classic food and wine pairings, hidden gems, value wines, or splurge wines that will take your dining experience over the top.

TJ: Thank you Robert, great to be here.

RT: Today we’re talking about a real Tampa classic, Bern’s Steak House. It was opened by Bern and Gert, a married couple, in the 1950’s and it’s run by their son today. It started as a small, intimate restaurant, and today they have several different dining rooms to welcome 350 guests. One of these rooms is the infamous Harry Waugh Dessert Room, serving dessert and matching beverages only, like fortified wine and spirits. The room is named after the director of Chateau Latour in Bordeaux at the time, and it’s truly an excellent way to end a dinner in.

TJ: And what a wine list! This one really is one of the heavier I’ve seen. Page after page with amazing wines, and even though many of them are classics there are bottles from places like Hungary and China as well. And of course, there is a separate list just for the dessert wine and digestifs.

RT: Yes, Bern’s really is an institution today. So what are your gems in the list?

TJ: Well since it is a steak house, I’m in the mood for red. The 2019 Clonakilla Shiraz from Canberra in Australia would be my pick. It has the classic ripe fruit flavor of Shiraz but it’s a bit lighter and fresher than the regular Shiraz. A great bottle with the less heavy meat servings like dry-aged carpaccio or Elk loin.

RT: Quite the bottle. But say I want to spoil myself with a truly special wine that you don’t see on a list often, a wine list of almost 200 pages must have something unique? What would you drink that’s something out of the ordinary?

TJ: Yes, they have quite a few exciting bottles actually. If you’re into Burgundy wine they have bottles form basically all different areas and crus, but I would probably pick a wine from the northern Rhône instead. I think that’s a better fit for the food here. Why not go for the 1985 Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage, one of the best Syrah’s in the world and a back vintage that can be hard to find!

RT: Wow, yes that’s a bottle hard to say no to! Not a wine most people get to drink in their lifetime.

TJ: Yes, and the two bottles are also fun to compare. As you might know, Shiraz and Syrah are two names for the same grape variety just made in different styles where Shiraz tends to be more fruit driven, and Syrah a bit leaner and more spicy in general.

RT: Yeah, two great examples of the diversity of the variety! And now, since we are in Bern’s, we have to finish the meal with dessert and fortified wine in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. I’m sure there’s plenty of fortified bottles to choose from as well, but which one do you think we should end the evening with?

TJ: I would go for Tawny Port, a fortified wine made from black grapes in Portugal. A fortified wine is made by blending a fermenting wine with grape spirit to stop the fermentation and keep the natural sugars and aromas of the grape juice. That means the wine has quite a high alcohol at about 20% and also that it’s sweet. A perfect way to end an evening and a fantastic companion with dessert. They have the Graham’s 30-year-old tawny port, which has a perfect balance between dried fruit and more nutty and dark chocolate notes. Perfect match with the salted caramel bread pudding on the menu!

RT: I agree with you, fortified wine is great and most of us drink it way too seldom. It’s very good with dessert, or as a dessert on its own. Or even with a nice cigar! So, thank you Tina for being back with us and sharing more of your favorite bottle.

To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.

If you would like us to review one of your favorite

restaurants, please send us email to: Info@CorkRules.Com or visit our web website where

we have a request form available, and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists wherever you get your podcasts.

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.




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