Cursing my way through the torrential rain last night, I made my way down East 4th Street to meet Ellen at In Vino–-one of her favorite NYC wine bars. With a menu composed of Italian varietals and fare, In Vino takes the love of everything Bacchanal to the extreme. The interior resembles a wine cave, complete with a vaulted ceiling, stucco textured walls, hanging bare bulbs emitting soft yellow light, and benches made from the remnants of barrels that once fermented wine. Sitting at the bar, we chatted with Zack about the nine red wines offered by the glass, tasting one or two before finally ordering a glass and warming up to the night.
The menu offers pages and pages of bottles of wine, listed by region, complete with a brief historical account, a description of local varietals, and maps. Sicily, Abruzzo, Sardinia, Apulia, Veneto, Piedmont, Umbria, and Tuscany, to name a few. There are 30 bottles of Tuscan wines listed, ranging in price from $32 to $540; 24 from Piedmont, including Barbera “Pais” for $32 and Gianni Voerzio Barolo for $160. By the glass, wines are served in sturdy but elegant long stemmed ware–$8 to $15 for a healthy dose.
Opting for the meatiest of wines by the glass, I ordered the Marcato Baraldo, 2001, from Veneto ($15/$42), a merlot/cabernet sauvignon blend. An opaque deep, dark ruby with a lively nose, the Baraldo offers an herbacious scent, earthy and full of plum, leather and mushroom. On the palate, it displays black cherry and spice, with a leathery finish that lingers long. With medium tannins and medium/high acidity, the texture is silky, and the composition sumptuously balanced. I cannot wait to run out and stock up on a few bottles of this incredibly lavish wine.
Ellen didn’t fare as well with her first glass–Torre Quarto Sangue Blu Negro Amaro, 2006 from Apulia. With spicy herbs and vegetal aromas on the nose, the bouquet has a promising start that quickly fades in the mouth.
Where does one go after Baraldo? Our friendly tender, Zack, suggested the Gioia Dolcetto d’Ovado, 2006, from Piedmont. An inky shade of deep ruby, purple, the Dolcetto has a slight nose with green herbs and light plum. The palate is pachouli-like, full of wet leaves, plum and prune, licorice and spice. The tannins have a greater presence here, balanced with medium acidity and a touch of leather; not as satisfying as the Baraldo, but still a pleasant glass of wine.
By the tine we finished, I was warm enough (inside and out) to brace the stormy night. The atmosphere is cozy, as is the service, and the food is divine. From the Antipasti menu we ordered the Tre Insalate (bell pepper peporanta, mint lentil salad, and eggplant calabrese) and the Carciofi alla Giudea (fried fresh artichokes) both of which complemented our appetites and wines.
[Where: In Vino, 215 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10009]