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About this Episode

Certified sommelier and wine educator Grace Hood joins Robert Tas once again for another episode of CorkRules. Today, they explore the extensive and diverse wine list of Craft, a restaurant renowned for its refined, farm-fresh American fare, and friendly atmosphere in an elegantly understated space. Grace shares her knowledge of wines from South Africa, Slovenia, Sicily, and Spain, and a few closer to home from the Finger Lakes, California and Washington.

Wines reviewed include:

  • South African Sauvignon Blanc from Aslina
  • Vinakoper Rex Red
  • Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1981
Transcript: Craft

RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where, in each episode, we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Grace Hood, Wine Educator and Certified Sommelier. Hello Grace, it’s great to have you!

GH: Hi Robert! Glad to be back!

RT Hahaha, yes I love it. Grace, before we jump in, let’s talk about CorkRules.

We created CorkRules to demystify wine lists because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… it can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

RT: So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine list. Alright, Grace today we will be reviewing the New York hotspot, Craft. Grace what were your initial thoughts on this list?

GH: So, we’re jumping back into our “is it a wine list or a small novel” lists hahaha, but for real, Craft has a very unique and diverse list.

Lots of representation here from so many unique wine regions of the world. And speaking of representation, I noticed that at the bottom of the first page they have an asterisk next to certain bottles that indicates that a winery is owned or the wine is made by a female or a black indigenous person of color, and I am HERE for that. Up until recent history, the wine industry was mainly run by the older white men, from the winemakers, the CEOs of wine companies, and of course the Court of the Master Sommeliers. Women and persons of color were not really even thought of to be a part of the wine industry pretty much up until the past 5-10 years. I myself faced ageism and sexism as a young woman in my career, but that all changed 2 years ago, when the women of the wine industry had their own MeToo movement - an expose was published in the New York Times, highlighting the misogyny and sexual misconduct of the wine industry, specifically the Court of the Master Sommeliers. And this came right on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement, which highlighted just how few persons of color there are in our field.  Now, we as a community, are committed towards a more equal, fair and diverse industry, and I’m really happy to see Craft making this a priority

RT: Wow that's incredible. Talk about a revolution. So, with that in mind Grace, which winemakers can we highlight?

GH: Yeah, so on the whites, you have a lovely South African Sauv Blanc from Aslina, which is a winery run by a fabulous woman known as the first lady of South African wine, Ntsiki Biyela. And then on the reds you have a fabulous pinot noir made by Kita Wines, which is the first winery to be owned by a Native American.

RT: Wow that’s incredible! Thank you for sharing these amazing sociology lessons with us. It’s great to hear that the wine industry, like so many fields, is focused on diversity and inclusion. What would be some other wines on this list you’d like to highlight?

GH: When I was cruising through the list, one of the first things I saw in the sparkling category was a really interesting bubbly from Slovenia called Refosco, which is an ancient grape indigenous to Slovenia and Italy. Since this is a sparkling red, which is pretty rare to find, it’s going to give you a really interesting experience on the palete - richer and deeper and way more fruity than your average sparkling, and definitely worth it to try because it is a very rare wine to see in the States. So order the Vinakoper Rex Red from the Craft list and get ready for a fascinating bubbly experience!

RT: Woah that’s amazing - I have never heard of that one before. Will definitely have to put it on the “to try” list.

GH: Totally. And when I was looking at the food menu, it has a bit of everything on it - kind of American fusion - so there are lots of different wines on the menu that would pair well. They do have a pretty heavy French section, and you know I love my French wines - so this episode I wanted to highlight a style that doesn’t nearly get enough attention because it's overshadowed by its famous red wines - Bordeaux!

When most people think of Bordeaux they go right to those lucious big bold cab merlot blends. But its white wine counter parts don’t nearly get enough love - sauvignon blanc and semillion are the whites of the regions and they are delicious!! Most people think of sauv blanc as light crisp and aromatic, and don’t get me wrong it still is. But because its blended with semillion, which is richer deeper and weighted, white Bordeaux’s end up drinking like a medium-bodied white - which means they can pair with tons of dishes, and of course they’re tasty on their own as well. Craft has 2 white Bordeaux’s and for the most authentic white Bordeaux experience I would go with the.

RT: I always forget about white Bordeaux! Going to have to buy some for my cellar.

GH: And invite me over to drink them with you!

RT: Next time you're in New York we totally will! Now how about the reds Grace?

GH: So, on the lighter side of red - I wanted to highlight another really small production but interesting old-world region - Sicily! Most people when they think Italian wine, they think chianti and Nebbiolo and super Tuscans etc. But the island of Sicily has its own indigenous grapes, including the one here Frappato from Occhipinti. If you’re looking for an alternative to pinot or Gamay noir, the light-bodied reds from Sicily are a great alternative.

RT: Awesome - always fun to try new regions from old countries.

GH: Yessir - and speaking of new regions, on the heavier red side, I would go with the 2016 Hedges Family Syrah from Washington is such an underrated area in the United States for wine. It sits on the same latitude as Bordeaux France, and their wines are just as rich and delicious, and at a fraction of the cost as Bordeaux.

RT: Awesome. I know you personally love WA wines so it was only a matter of time before you picked out a favorite! Now to close out, how about a great value wine and then a special occasion bottle?

GH: You got it! For an affordable white, I’m going with the unoaked Chardonnay from Wagner Vineyards from the Finger Lakes district of New York. And affordable red I’m picking the Rosso Di Toscana Sangiovese. And for special occasion bottles I’m going with two Spanish classics - for white it’s the Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1981, and the reds it’s the 1965 Vega Sicilia Unico. Ole!

RT: Incredible. Grace, thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate the Craft wine list.

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. Follow us on social media @corkrules and @wineswithgrace

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

Thank you.






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