Wine Advice: Bryant Mao
You go to a restaurant not just because you’re hungry.
You want an experience. So, at home I suggest you prepare for your meal as if you’re really going out. Bring out your best glassware. Take off the sweats and put on some nice pants. Set the table. Spend a little time to set out your plates and order a good bottle— or go to the store and ask for some advice. Think how you would order in the restaurants. Have an aperitif, and then open a nice bottle of wine. Sparkling wine is very versatile. Pinot Noir, with its soft tannins, goes with a lot of dishes. You want a red, but you have dishes with fish, vegetables, meat…. Pinot Noir is a no-brainer. And you can’t go wrong with Burgundy.
At Hawksworth and Nightingale, we’re trying to make it easy and comfortable for people to just order from a small selection of wines online. If things are reasonably priced, people are willing to try them out. We support local and choose [wines] that tie into our philosophy while offering good value. As a sommelier, not being able to offer advice is challenging. But people understand B.C. wines and they don’t have to call up and chat, which is good because I can’t provide a sommelier hotline. We recognize that people are ordering different dishes and can’t pair each dish with a wine. So, we’ll offer a fresh Riesling, which is a style that can mesh with a lot of different foods. All the white wines on our list are versatile—a Grüner Veltliner or a Soave. We have a Cabernet Franc from Tuscany as an alternative for people who want the weight of Cabernet.
You don’t have to go all the way to Piedmont for a Barolo, but look for wines from the area, like Dolcetto and Barbera. I like the wines of Sicily too, especially Cerasuolo. We’re doing well with Portuguese and Spanish wines, as there are some really great producers and these regions have such diversity in their cuisines and their wines.