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About this Episode

Host Robert Tas and Whitney Grant, wine educator and certified sommelier, explore the wine list at Ruffian, a vegetarian restaurant that also offers wine lessons taught by one of their certified sommeliers. With a 250+ bottle list, Ruffian has a great selection of wines from all over Europe, the States, and Lebanon, and Whitney identifies the must-trys and value wines and introduces us to grapes indigenous to Lebanon and best, most complex sweet wines in the world. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • Domaine Tatsis "Young Vines" from Macedonia, Greece
  • Moreau, Aligoté from Burgundy, France
  • 2015 Tokaji Szamorodni
Transcript: Ruffian


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 Whitney Grant, wine educator and certified sommelier.

Hello Whitney, it’s great to have back on with CorkRules.

WG: Hi Robert! Thanks for having me! I’m excited to share these wine selections with you and the CorkRules listeners.

RT: 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.

RT: Today we are talking about Ruffian located in the East Village Ruffian is a wine bar offering vegetarian food pairings and a la carte selections. With wines from France, Eastern Europe, and the United States there is something for everyone.

Whitney I can’t wait to hear what do you think of their extensive wine list?

WG: I’m so excited to be talking about Ruffian with you today! A few fun things I would recommend checking out in addition to the pairing menu are the wine classes. Every month they offer multiple wine classes on varying subjects taught by one of their certified sommeliers. In a class, you’ll sample a number of wines and learn a lot of really cool information from the people pouring these wines every day. This is a great way to learn more about wine!

RT: That does sound like a lot of fun, I bet you would learn a lot! Taking a look at this wine list, what jumps out at you?

WG: Ruffian has a great selection of wines from all over Europe. I would recommend starting with the Domaine Tatsis 'Young Vines' from Macedonia, Greece. Made from the red Xinomavro grape, a varietal that is often compared to a Nebiolo. Expect red fruit, bright acidity, herbaceous character, and some nice tannic structure. 

For the white wine drinkers, I would recommend the Moreau, Aligoté from Burgundy, France. Burgundy is known for the more profitable Pinot Noir and Chardonnay so this was a pleasant surprise to see on the list. Aligoté typically has delicate citrus flavors with mouthwatering acidity.

RT: That’s really great [talking point], as you looked at the bottle list did you see anything jump out at you?

WG: If you’re looking to explore bottles here, be sure to check our their happy hour, they offer 20% off ALL bottles. So if you’ve got your eye on a specific wine you can indulge!

There is such a great selection of wine here to try, but the first wine that jumped out to me is for a rock star producer Brianne Day in my hometown of Willamette Valley, Oregon. The Day Wines, ‘Vin de Days’ Orange wine. This wine is a blend of Riesling, Müler Thurgau, Gewurtraminer, and Pinot gris. This is an orange wine, getting that beautiful color for “generous” skin contact with these white wine varietals. This wine is complex with flavors of orange peel, dried apricot, and tea.

RT: Orange wines are really gaining a following. Are there any regions or producers from this list that might not be as commonly known?

WG: There are a few wines from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon where they have been making wine for thousands of years. There are two wines from Chateau Musar. A historic winery where the grapes were first planted in the 1930s.

I’d recommend the 2008 Blanc, the white wine is a blend of Obaiden “Obeidi” & Merwah two indigenous Lebanese grapes. This wine has aromas of blossom and flavors of peach, toasty honey notes, and a zesty finish. 2008 was a notable vintage and worth the price.

RT: So Whitney, is there anything you would recommend to close your visit with something sweet?

WG: Yes! With such a great selection of eastern European wines, I would have to recommend one of the Tokaji on the menu.

Now the 2000 Tokaji Aszu, this style is some of the best and most complex sweet wines in the world. The aszú refers to the shriveled-up botrytis-affected grapes. To create this style of wine a base wine is created with healthy Furmint grapes. The aszú berries are then macerated into the base wine. This mixture is then aged in oak for a minimum of 18 months. These wines will be sweet like nectar with a minimum residual sugar of 120 g/L. So again this wine will be sweet with intense, pronounced aromas and flavors of honey, apricot, and caramel. If you get the chance to try one of these wines I highly recommend it, they are delicious.

If you are looking to finish off the night without breaking the bank you could give the 2015 Tokaji Szamorodni a try. This wine will have some of the same characteristics as the Aszu with those noble rot/botrytis flavors but less intense. These wines are aged in oak for at least one year so you can still enjoy some of those oxidative qualities and flavors of dried apricot and honey. At $23 a glass, this is a much more approachable wine. 

RT: Whitney Thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Ruffian’s Wine List. I can’t wait to go try them myself.

WG: Thanks for having me Robert, this was an exciting and adventurous list to review and I hope the listeners get the chance to enjoy some of these awesome wines!

RT: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.

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

Thank you.





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