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Somm Sez: Small Plates, Broad Palate

Posted on  | September 26, 2013   Bookmark and Share
Written by |

Mandy Oser, owner, Ardesia, New York City


Way west in Midtown Manhattan, Ardesia is a local wine bar with a worldly perspective. The taut, 100-selection list is lean in typical brand names and rich in regional gems. All the better to pair with a quirky menu that ranges from artisanal cheeses and house-cured charcuterie to pickled-jalapeño deviled eggs, pulled-pork sliders and duck banh mi.



The Beverage Network: What is a favorite current pairing at Ardesia?
Mandy Oser: Equipo Navazos-Niepoort Vino Blanco 2009 and our roasted cauliflower. Crazy good—something about the Sherry-like taste of the wine and the roasted garlic notes in the cauliflower seem to add up to something more.

TBN: Do you do special wine promotions on a regular basis?
MO: We introduced a fun promotion called “Wine. Social.” Saturday from 2:00-5:00pm we select five wines, and for $25 per person guests can taste through all of the wines at their own pace. It’s been a lot of fun for us to seek out really great value wines.

TBN: What are some glass pours that have done especially well for you?
MO: We are pouring a 2009 Toro from Muruve that has sold very well. Over the summer the Copain Rosé (100% Pinot Noir) was flying.

TBN: What software system do you use to manage your list/inventory?
MO: We just implemented BinWise. Previously it was endless Excel spreadsheets and Google docs. So far we are loving the ease and efficiency of the system.

TBN: How many distributors do you do business with?
MO: About a dozen. We order through BinWise and otherwise via email. We try to place orders twice weekly.

TBN: Do you have a strategy for    displaying wines at the restaurant?
MO: When you walk in our front door the first thing you see is our floor-to-ceiling wine wall behind the bar.  

TBN: What recent trends have you noticed at Ardesia?
MO: There is an increased openness and curiosity about wine. Instead of being intimidated, people seem excited to try things they’ve never heard of or tasted. We also are seeing much greater interest in the wines of our region—from Long Island and the Finger Lakes.

TBN: Your list clearly leans toward the esoteric. Has this worked to your advantage with guests?
MO: We have such a great crowd. Lots of guests come right out and ask for the most unusual wine we have on the list. And for those who want something more familiar, we find it’s just a matter of talking to them and finding out what they like in a wine and matching that up with something we do offer. I think it makes our staff better—they have learned to listen and and provide terrific service.

TBN: What words-of-wisdom do you find yourself frequently telling staff?
MO: Listen to the guests and what they are asking for. Avoid putting words in their mouths. Let them describe the wine. Guide them, don’t lecture them.

TBN: What are some other wine lists/programs around NYC that you admire?
MO: Aldo Sohm at Le Bernardin. Vast knowledge, yet utter lack of pretension. Terroir is always a blast; their list is an adventure, and I love experiencing new things there. I recently had a delicious Etna Bianco at Charlie Bird—plus wonderful service—and I’m looking forward to going back and exploring the list more.


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