Back-to-Wine-School at Eli’s Table


The fall back-to-school season is under way, but getting an education isn’t only for the kiddies. Adults can brush up on geography and sociology skills — through the lens of a wine glass — by joining one of Eli Zabar’s upcoming wine classes, held at his Upper East Side restaurant Eli’s Table (1413 Third Avenue; 212-717-9798).

Offering one course per month for four months, wine director Randall Restiano will feature wines and regions “that also relate to the season,” as he explained to the Voice. Each hour-long class will focus in depth on a particular place or style of wine, pulling examples from Eli’s massive cellar of more than 16,000 bottles.

For example, on September 16, Restiano will guide guests through six pinot noirs, all from the same vintage, to demonstrate the nuances of Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits as one moves from north to south. He aims to not only educate on the wines, but share their cultural and culinary context. During the Burgundy tasting, he will pair small bites, like house-made charcuterie and wild-mushroom crostini, with different villages.

Restiano will keep classes intimate; rather than lecture from the pulpit, he will join a dozen patrons at a roundtable in order to “foster discussion.” Other sessions include an October examination of Sangiovese and its clones and, in November, a review of orange wines, including examples from Slovenia and Sicily. Restiano opted for a class on this old-is-new-again wine style because he believes orange wine pairs as neatly as a wine can to the diverse foods and flavors, from sweet to savory, found on the Thanksgiving table. Barolo class is slated for December, when truffle season hits in Italy.

At $50 per person for six wines, fees are quite reasonable. “We wanted to keep classes accessible and not exclude people based on price. The whole idea of the classes is to introduce really great wines to consumers who don’t normally have access to them,” Restiano says. All of the bottles selected will also be available in Eli’s restaurants and wine shop.

Classes will start at 5:30 p.m. Here’s the schedule:

• September 16: Exploring the Terroir of the Côte de Nuits from North to South
• October 14: Pure Sangiovese and Its Clones
• November 18: The Mysteries and Pleasures of Orange Wine
• December 16: Discovering Italy’s King: Barolo

To register, call Eli’s List wine shop at 212-717-1999 or email Restiano directly at

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 14, 2015

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