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About this Episode

Sommelier Grace Hood explores the wine list of Falansai,  a Vietnamese-American restaurant located in the heart of Bushwick, Brooklyn. This restaurant focuses on pairing seasonal sourcing with local purveyors to keep the menu fresh and local, the vibe is friendly,  and the wine list is equally compelling.

Wines reviewed include:

  • Orangetraube from Zahel
  • Bodegas Clandestina Xarelo from Penedes in Spain
  • Aborigen Piel de Luna from Mexico
Transcript: Falansai

RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where (in each episode) we will review the 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: Xin choai robert! That’s Vietnamese for Hello

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

We created CorkRules to demystify wine list’s 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.

So to piggy back off of Grace’s Vietnamese greeting, today we’re going to be talking about Falansai, a Vietnamese - American restaurant in Brooklyn owned by Chef Eric Tran. Now, Grace, you used to live in Vietnam, is that correct?

GH: I did yes! I was living in HCMC in 2017/2018, and was immersed in Vietnamese cuisine and culture. I absolutely love Vietnamese food and was very excited when you sent over Falansai’s menu.

RT: That’s really great! I love your international experience. It really brings a unique viewpoint to not only wine lists but the podcast as well!

GH: Absolutely - and that’s what it all comes down to is perspective. In the world of hospitality, it is the job of professionals to bring these amazing far-off flavors and tastes and experiences, to the domestic consumer. That’s why I love wine education, bc even if we’re sitting in our homes in New York and California, just by talking about the wine, the terroir, the wine-making style etc., you can be transported to a far-off place. Wine is like a magic carpet ride and I am Aladdin! A wholeeee new worlldddddd

RT: Omgosh you really are the singing sommelier!

MV: I’m a woman of many talents Robert :) And speaking of Aladdin and Asia haha - back to Falansai. Since we’re dealing with Vietnamese American fusion, we’re going to have a bit of an easier time pairing wines b/c of all the hybrid flavors in the food. If we were pairing wines with traditional Asian cuisine we would go with more of that traditional gwetrz and Riesling route we’ve been chatting about when it comes to pairing Asian food and wine.

RT: Totally - so since we have this American Vietnamese fusion cuisine, where do we start?

MV: So the first thing I noticed about the wine menu is that it’s only 2 pages! Very approachable, reader-friendly, and also quite affordable. Out of the 40 wines they have, only 2 of them are over $100. This is a great tactic by their wine director to, as we say in the industry, move the juice! B/c the price points are in that $60 sweet spot, guests are going to be more inclined to get out of their comfort zone and try some new wines they have yet to experience, but maybe didn’t feel totally comfortable dishing out a few hundred dollars for.

RT: That's a great point Grace. So, what are some interesting wines you’d recommend for people now that money is off the table?

MV: So, starting with bubbles - I immediately gravitated towards the Bodegas Clandestina Xarelo from Penedes in Spain, also known as Cava! Cava is the overall term for Spanish sparkling wine - it’s like what cremant is to France and what Prosecco is to Italy. And I personally LOVE Cava. One of my first sommelier positions was at Casa Mono in Union Square, which is an amazing Spanish restaurant with an all-Spanish wine list. I fell in love with Spanish wines, and cava is no exception. It is super delicate and aromatic, with these hints of white peaches and gardenias. I always order Cava if it’s an option, and again, almost always at an affordable price point.

RT: Ooh, delicious. I love a good cava. What else caught your eye Grace? 

MV: Ok so in the whites, we have a very rare and special white wine varietal - Orangetraube from Zahel. Now just to clarify, it is NOT, I repeat NOT an orange wine - however, we will get to those a little later. Orangetraube is a white grape indigenous to Austria, and only ONE producer in the entire country makes it, so this is a very very special bottle.

RT: Wow that is so cool! I’ve never even heard of that varietal. What a unique Austrian experience to have at a Vietnamese shop in Brooklyn!

MV: Totally! Wine is an international experience no matter where you are in the world

  RT: Now you mentioned Orange wine Grace….what exactly IS orange wine? It seems to be a hot topic in the wine world right now.

GH: It totally is Robert. The Falansai list has an entire section labeled “Contact” so I definitely wanted to elaborate on that for our listeners. So there are basically 2 ways you make regular table wine, excluding sparkling and fortified wines. When a white or red grape gets harvested from the vineyards and comes into the winery, you basically have 2 things you could do with it. One - you could put it whole berry or whole cluster into a fermentation tank - that means the grapes and sometimes the stems are all going to go through the fermentation process together. As opposed to the second process you could do with grapes when they arrive - which is called direct press. And that is when you put the grapes in a big cylinder machine called a press, close it up and then slowly over a few hours, the machine with press or essentially squeeze those grapes together, getting out all the delicious, sweet juice, which drips out the bottom of the press and gets transferred right into a fermentation tank. So, the main difference between the two processes is that the press doesn’t see any what we call skin contact, meaning we only want to make wine with the juice of the grapes rather than the skins and stems. The direct press process is how we get white wine and rose. And the open-top fermentation process is how we get red wine and orange wine. Orange wine is just a white wine grape that goes through the fermentation process with their skins, giving it a darker color and richer flavor.

RT: Oh wow that’s a much easier way to think about wine! It's 4 grapes done 2 ways. Now just to round out the list, what red wine caught your eye on the Falansai list?

GH: Oh you know I did Robert! I saw that they have a wine from the Baja region of Mexico, the Aborigen Piel de Luna. And now you might be thinking “grace….Mexico isn’t known for their wine” and to be fair, they are not, currently! When we think of Mexico we obviously think of tequila and mezcal, but just like the rest of the west coast, Mexico has been producing wine for hundreds of years! The grapes were brought over from Europe during the age of exploration, and they’ve been making lovely wines in the northern Baja near Tijuana just a little south of San Diego. Viva la Mexico!

RT: Incredible. Grace, thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Falansai.

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 cue as quick 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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