A Wine Expert On Fast Food Pairings, Boxed Wine & More [Interview]

gianni
Photo via Gianni Cavicchi

Anybody can go to a wine store and pick a random bottle, but it takes some deep knowledge to pick the right bottle. Lucky for you (and for us), we sat down with Café D’Alsace sommelier Gianni Cavicchi, who taught us everything we need to know the next time we order a glass of vino…or a box of it.

So, what qualifies you as a wine expert?

First and foremost, I drink a lot. Can’t be an expert without trying all the wine!

I’ve been enrolled in the Wine and Spirit Educational Trust for the past four years. … Café D’Alsace is a four-time ‘Award of Excellence’ winner from the Wine Spectator. My father was a sommelier across Europe, and I always grew up around wine and making wine, so it was in my blood.

Wine gives brutal hangovers. In terms of taste and the morning after, what do you think of organic and/or sulfite-free wine?

Organic and bio-dynamic wines are simply awesome. Eliminating cheats like chemical pesticides make the vintner pay closer attention to his or her vines. Sulfites do not cause headaches or hangovers; I truly don’t know where that myth came from. The thing to watch out for is histamines, and obviously the alcohol.

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White wine for fish, red wine for beef. What about the delicate flavors of Taco Bell? 

Bubbles work best with a Gordita Crunch. … Sparkling wines work wonders with greasy foods; the bubbles refresh your palate like mouthwash, but they don’t leave a nasty taste on your tongue.

You’re an all-around classy gent. Do you ever drink boxed wine?

Sure, I’ve had wine outta loads of different vessels. As long as the packaging is nonporous, the flavors will be unaffected. Sparkling wines in cans are great for the carbonation, and it takes less time to chill them.

For a long time, we saw [mostly] bad brands boxing their wine, but nowadays with carbon footprint awareness, some pretty good makers are jumping on board. … Trust me, you will see a lot more of it in the future. We’re also gonna start seeing a lot more wine on tap at bars and restaurants. Wine bottles are classy, but very awkward to transport and generate a lot of unneeded waste.

 What’s the indentation for at the bottom of the bottle?

The “punt” has a couple different purposes. The shape makes the bottle stronger, and helps collect sediment while the bottles are aging. It also makes a more stable base for the bottle to stand upright.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where does White Zinfandel rank on the spectrum of manliness?

Drinking White Zinfandel is as manly as watching “The Joy Luck Club” while shopping online for Egyptian cotton sheets, so I would say a 0.5 in manliness. The point-five is awarded because there is still alcohol in it.

The manliest wine you could drink would be a “Melchizedek,” a gigantic champagne bottle that holds the equivalent of 40 regular size wine bottles…if you saber it (slice the cork off with a knife) in front of all of your friends, I’d say that’s an 11.

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Jim Brennan (@JimJBrennan) is a freelance writer in the New York City area.