Food and wine are natural companions, so I’m polling some of New York’s most illustrious chefs to find out what kind of wine they are drinking off and on the job. After establishing they actually drink wine (a surprising number prefer beer!), I’m asking a few questions to find out who’s got a penchant for Piedmont, which chefs dislike oaky Chardonnay, and why there is no right or wrong way to enjoy wine.
In today’s installation of this series, I talk with Ben Daitz, chef and partner of Cambodian sandwich shop Num Pang.
Village Voice: Do you drink wine at home?
Ben Daitz: Yes, regularly.
What types of wine do you like to drink? Any grape or style preferences?
I am a big fan of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and wines from the southern Rhone valley in France – they are mostly composed of Grenache, which I love. I also enjoy some California Cabs, Zinfandels and Syrahs. I tend to like fruit-forward, easy drinking wine with a little bit of complexity.
Are there specific bottles you love or drink on repeat?
I really love Kosta Browne California Pinot Noir and Robert Biale’s The Black Chicken Zinfandel, and I drink those often. I also love Orin Swift’s The Prisoner. If I could, I would drink Pierre Usseglio Réserve des Deux Frères–but it’s too expensive to drink on repeat!
Do your preferences carry through to your wine lists?
I leave the wine list in my restaurants to the pros.
Where do you shop for wine?
I usually order from K&L Wine Merchants in San Francisco, or I go to Astor Wine & Spirits if I need something immediately.
Do you ever buy wine by the case?
I very rarely buy it by the case because New York City apartments don’t allow me to collect the way I would like to be collecting!
Is there one perfect wine and food pairing for you?
Actually there are two: The first is Pierre Usseglio Réserve des Deux Frères Châteauneuf-du-Pape paired with a Peppercorn Crusted Venison Loin, which is incredible. The second is Château d’Yquem and Foie Gras, which is just simple but classic.
Anything else you want to add?
Just that I wish I had more space to collect because I absolutely love the aging process and seeing what time does to wine.