Maison Premiere’s Lisa Giffen Shares a Wine Secret: Drink Savoie


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’m chatting with Lisa Giffen, executive chef of Maison Premiere.

Do you drink wine at home?
Yes, but not alone; only with guests. When you are at the restaurant all the time, you get to taste some great wines, so it balances out.

What types of wine do you like to drink? Any grape or style preferences?
Right now, I’m really into the Savoie, a French mountain region next to Switzerland. It’s definitely a terroir-driven, under-appreciated, best-kept secret region with great domaines and talented, up-and-coming winemakers: Belluard, Dupasquier, St. Germain, and Adrien Berlioz. Also, there are all sorts of really cool varietals that, for the most part, you only find there: Gringet, Persan, Mondeuse, Jacquère, and Altesse. Patrick Belluard is making the best sparkling wine in all of France, and he is the only winemaker I have ever heard of making wine with native grape Gringet. If you see the rare Mont Blanc cuvee, buy it all and smile.

Are there specific bottles you love or drink on repeat?
Anything from Burgundy.

Do your preferences carry through to your wine lists?
I think our wine list is amazing and getting better and better. I’ve worked for restaurants with unlimited budgets that employ Sommeliers, Assistant Sommeliers, and Beverage Directors, and so on, and that carry extensive and rare wine lists; for a smaller operation like Maison Premiere, I think co-owner Krystof Zizka does an incredible job of finding beautiful and truly special wines.

Where do you shop for wine?
In my biased opinion, the best wine store in New York, is, hands down, Chambers Street Wines. They have a wealth of knowledge, and if you ask for a recommendation, they find just what you were looking for.

Do you ever buy wine by the case?
I never have. When I worked at Adour by Alain Ducasse, I told the sommelier that and he bought me my first case of wine.

Is there one perfect wine and food pairing for you?
I love French wines, and I find them easy to pair with food based on the different regions. I particularly love to pair our seafood driven menu with Chenin Blanc from Touraine, especially the village of Montlouis (and my favorite Montlouis winemaker is Frantz Saumon); the wines go incredibly well with oysters, sea urchins, razor clams, langoustines, turbot, citrus, and herbs, but also foie gras and quail!

Read more of this series:
Wolfgang Ban of Seasonal, Edi and the Wolf, and The Third Man
Anita Lo of Annisa
Frank Prisinzano of Frank, Lil’ Frankie’s, Supper and Sauce
Ben Daitz of Num Pang
Harold Dieterle of The Marrow, Perilla, and Kin Shop
Gabe and Katherine Thompson of dell’anima, L’artusi, Anfora, and L’Apicio
Alex Raij of Txikito, La Vara, and El Quinto Pino

Archive Highlights