Tonight at Frasca Food and Wine, Bobby Stuckey and Shelley Lindgren will share the floor for wine service for a one-night special dinner: the SPQR guest dinner featuring Lindgren and chef Matthew Accarrino - several seats are still available.
Stuckey is the Frasca co-owner and a master sommelier; Lindgren, the owner and wine director at popular San Francisco restaurants A16 and SPQR. Stuckey's Frasca focuses on Northern Italian cuisine, Lindgren's A16 on Southern Italian food. Both enjoy walking the dining room, dishing out recommendations, and sharing their passion for wine with guests above all else. Among their many accomplishments, for the last three years, Stuckey and Lindgren have both been finalists for the James Beard Award for Best Wine Service. In a one-of-a-kind he-said-she-said format, Eater asked these two for wine recommendations in preparation for Valentine's Day.
Best wine for alleviating the pressure on Valentine's Day without breaking the bank on someone you just started dating?
He said: The best way to look smart and be thoughtful about the wine selection is starting off with a great grower champagne. I would suggest Bereche e Fils Brut Reserve from the Reims Montagne in France. It runs $85 on our list. It's special, and costs less than the big brands, but is so much better.
She said: Italy is a great country for finding wines that taste more expensive than they actually are. Paying a lot for a bottle isn't a guarantee that you'll find an amazing wine. When ordering wine, I think it's always a great strategy to give your server or sommelier an idea of what you're looking for, thinking about a range of price within $20, and trusting that the restaurant will steer you in the right direction. It removes all the pressure and you can both sit back and enjoy each other rather than worry about the wine.
Best wine for popping the question?
He said: Stepping out of my Italian aesthetic? I'd recommend something sexy, delicious, and highly aromatic; something you'll remember forever that will set the bar for greatness for years to come. I'd choose the Great Red Burgundy Domaine Dujac Morey Saint-Denis 2009. If you pop the question at Frasca, this is on our list for $189.
She said: Bubbles are the way to go. It sets the mood for celebration, a festive night, and is, after all, a reason to toast. On more than one occasion, I've dropped a ring into a flute and the bride-to be noticed something in her glass. A usual sipping wine seems to go down pretty quickly under circumstances like this.
Best wine to order as a follow-up if she says no?
He said: Sombra mezcal. Being someone who has actually witnessed this in my years of working in restaurants, I think this would be the best time to switch from wine to something that's an upper rather than a downer.
She said: I would say Syrah and sing 'Que Syrah, Syrah, whatever will be will be.' A nice black pepper - blueberry and a sturdy wine that will take you riding into the sunset. I've only seen one person say no in the restaurant. Timing is everything. Make sure you and your significant other are happy and having great days. It can make a difference. If it seems like there might be some tension, keep that ring tucked away and just enjoy dinner. Some couples come back to A16 and order the same wine they did when they were engaged years before. It's very sweet. And, I have yet to see an engagement without wine of some sort...
For the anti-VDay lovers who stay away from dining out that night - is there a good, affordable bottle that works with take-out Chinese or just a home cooked meal?
He said: Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen from Austria. It goes perfectly with Chinese food.
She said: This time of year, a nice velvety, decadent red is so fulfilling. I love recommending the island wines off Italy, especially Carignano from Sardegna or Nero d'Avola from Sicily. If you're ordering out, the sweet and spicy quality of a variety of foods will be complemented by the depth of these sun-ripened grapes with natural sweeter tannins rather than the more astringent varieties that want pure proteins and saltier flavors.
Best wine for soothing the wounds of a pre-VDay break-up? Bonus points if it pairs with ice cream.
He said: I would treat myself to something great like a Barolo. It's mid-winter and it's the perfect wine to enjoy as you remind yourself that the person who dumped you right before Valentine's Day doesn't deserve you or any of the Produttori del Barbaresco "Montestefano" you'll be enjoying.
She said: I would go Nebbiolo. Open a nice, aromatic red and make a slow-cooked sugo to add to a fresh pasta. Sip the wine, savor the pasta and then watch bad tv. Somehow, that just helps relax without thinking too much. Wake up the next day and get outside!
What about red wines for those who believe in its passion-inducing powers, maybe to pair with other aphrodisiac foods like oysters, chocolate, hot chilies?
He said: I have to pass on the passion-inducing pairings. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing that I recommended red wine with oysters, chocolates or hot chilies. Have a bottle of Champagne instead.
She said: I love the story about how Marc Anthony seduced Cleopatra with the aphrodisiac qualities of Brachetto. I can see why there are wines like Brachetto d'Acqui and Lacrima di Morro d'Alba that can have floral qualities and carry over perfumed aromas in a seductive manner. Reds for oysters would come from northern Europe. Stay away from sweet wines or too astringent of tannins to avoid any metallic flavors from the oyster pairing. Mayolet from Valle D'Aosta, Italy, Blaufrankish from Austria, or Gamy from Beaujolais would work great. Chocolate can take the tannins and earthy quality of red wine perfectly. Tempranillo often offers a bittersweet cocoa nib flavor. Nero d'Avola is a classic with chocolate covered cherries, or perhaps a Mourvedre from the south of France like Bandol. Hot chilies scream Southern Italy. Galglioppo from Calabria is ideal. Etna Rossos from Sicily, Piedirosso from Campania, and Cesanese from Lazio would be my go-to wines.
Is red wine is best for romance or would you recommend something different?
He said: I think all wines are great for romance. For a guy who's been married for 13 years, my tactic is to ask my wife what she's in the mood to drink? and then I open two bottles of it.
She said: I recommend starting with sparkling and moving into a red wine as the evening progresses. Also, don't count out rose wines. They are incredibly versatile and festive, and are a great alternative for starting an evening.
What wine would you like you date or significant other to uncork for you to celebrate love?
He said: Knowing that it's in our personal cellar, hopefully Danette will grab a bottle of 2005 Giacomo Conterno Barolo "Cascina Francia."
She said: I'm actually a huge white wine fan. One of my all-time favorite wines for many reasons is the Arboreus from Paolo Bea winery in Umbria. The vintner manages over 100-year-old vines and creates a natural, beautiful wine with grapes that are grown at almost 20 feet high and wrapped into the branches of poplar trees. It's a testament to the passion of making wine and, in turn, makes the drinking of such a wine extraordinary. Stories like this in winemaking have opened my eyes over the years and continue to keep me believing in the symbiotic relationship of tradition with food and wine.