Tips on starting your own cellar (for business or pleasure), and our preferred holiday pours

by Tali Dalbaha

Life with trifola
In Italy, fall means truffle season a seductive and romantic time of the year under any circumstances, but with extra appeal for the culinary and drinky set. Between October 6 and November 25, it seems like everyone is chasing white truffle, aka trifola d’Alba Madonna, (“truffle of the White Madonna”). When you find one of these gems technically the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus you eat everything with its earthy, light garlic flavors, starting with a breakfast omelet with shaved trifola, which pairs perfectly with sparkling Franciacorta Bellavista Pas Opere 2007 ($69.99, but this is the most important meal of the day, after all). For a casual lunch, you shave it over a white pizza just bought in a neighborhood osteria, accompanied by a bottle of elegant Barbaresco like Marchesi di Gresy Martinenga 2013 ($59.99) for a lovely afternoon with simplicity. When the sun comes down over the mountains of Piedmont, indulge in an aged bottle of Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1998 ($119.99) to pair with your Tajarin (a local fresh egg pasta with butter) and, of course, Alba white truffle shaved on top. Meravigliosa!

Life with Trifola1

Time for a collection?
Have you ever dreamed of your own wine cellar? It’s possible, folks, even in the compact spaces we often inhabit. I can recall my first 36 bottle rack, buying two fancy crystal glasses, and the certainty that I was on my way. Now, I have a room dedicate to wines, and must say, it feels lovely to have it. Buying wine is enjoyable, but pricey, of course, so one main question should precede your collecting: are you acquiring for pleasure or for business? The latter reflects an intention to market your cellar, which can be more profitable than real estate under the right circumstances. This is a great undertaking, but means understanding the business, including vintages, producers, and having an eye for what will be in demand in 10 years. Hiring a professional buyer is often worth it, because the right advice can easily double an investment in ten years. If buying for pleasure, start with three to six bottles you enjoy and see how things develop; open one each year so you can discover each type’s aging potential. You might not always be able to get more of the same vintage, but will gradually get a grip on what gives you pleasure. Also, explore new territories (there are great values in almost all regions), and don’t be afraid to ask a wine expert or local sommelier what’s similar to your favorites, and what else is worth trying. And yes, expensive wines most likely will taste better, owing to better vinification and bottling, and good producers will most likely make good wine even in “bad” vintages. Nevertheless, buy what you enjoy drinking, regardless of the price, because life is too short for merely adequate wine. Super Buy Rite Wine & Liquor, 575 Manila Avenue, Jersey City,

Time for a Collection_

Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, is all about food, drinks, friends, and family, but it’s also key to throw in some surprises. One for me is pumpkin beer, like Schlafl y Pumpkin Ale, Saint Louis Brewery 8% ABV ($13.49 for a six pack) and its sweet spices and super smooth fl avor. And despite all the white wine you’ll see on other tables, a great bottle of Pinot Noir is actually perfect for Turkey pairing, like Daniel Rion Bourgogne Rouge 2015 for $24.99. Light and Lovely.

Holiday Faves_1
For Christmas, an eggnog cocktail (or perhaps something stronger) spikes things up, so, for something robust to warm our constitutions, the new kid on the block is Pinhook Bourbon ($49.99), a powerful pour with dark caramel notes, a rich texture, and long finish. Smooth, deep, and emotional.

Avora Spread

New Years Eve means, of course, going big or going home, so make it special with Dom Pérignon P2, 2000 Vintage ($299.99). P2 is the Second Plénitude of this venerable house, the result of 16 years of care and aging, and offers a wonderful, sharp intensity. The energy of this wine is at its peak, but if bubbles are not your thing and you still feel like a big spender, the Remi Martin Louis XIII is a pure pleasure for a mere $2,999.