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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Purple Haze

Posted on Thu, Oct 4, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Down a flight of stairs from the boisterous Taverna Opa sits the Grape, a purply posh wine bar/boutique where one can down a flight of a different sort. Here, budding connoisseurs, sommeliers and refined alkies can get their fill from more than 120 labels, and get some sideways assistance in pairing a varietal with their meal. Instead of segmenting selections by region, the Grape’s copyrighted system cuts through the geographical murk and classifies wines into 10 categories according to what matters most – taste. One through three are dedicated to whites, four through six to reds; dessert wines are given a seven; champagnes and bubblies, eight; while nines and 10s are reserved for premium, special-occasion bottles.

Chef Steffan Vickness’ menu of light gourmet fare facilitates the cultivation process by including suggested pairings, listed by number, of course. A tart and fruity one (the Chatelain Sancerre sauvignon blanc, for example) is an ideal pairing with the brie en croûte; a bold, tannic six is perfect with the New Zealand rack of lamb. Should you fancy a flight for a broader sampling, the “Grapes by the Bunch” option offers a trio of 2.5-ounce pours starting at a very reasonable $10. Fountain-side tables are ideal for sip-and-gawking, while the scene inside is decidedly more intimate. Check out the vast selection of vintages under $30 on your way out – they’re logically displayed in the small retail area near the entrance.

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