Vine + Table: Boca’s Kevin Hart Demystifies Wine, Part II

Vine + Table: Boca’s Kevin Hart Demystifies Wine, Part II

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Trend No. 1: Underdog grapes making a splash in Cincinnati


The wine world has become content with the usual suspects like merlot, chardonnay and pinot noir, causing many grapes that make stellar wines to get lost in the shuffle. Fortunately, with the recent local movement, underdog wines and small varietals are popping up on wine lists around town. For example, Boca’s Kevin Hart is pouring a grape right now called, Nerrello Mascalesse, grown on a volcanic mountain in Sicily and nowhere else in the world. (Sicily is an island, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, in Southern Italy. This is where my Italian-side of the family is from.) The grape drinks more like a pinot noir (read: black cherry, ripe tomato, cinnamon and mushroom) and is available on both sides of the price spectrum.


Why Hart loves this grape: "A lot of Sicilian wines are overripe from the heat, but this one, because of its location on the mountain, the altitude and overall nature of the vineyard sites, are incredibly elegant and structured. They’re just beautiful," Hart says.


There is something to be said about smaller producers and varietals whose wines typically reflect the stunning diversity of regional terroir. The point is, step outside of what you’ve tried before. It’s likely that you’ll find dazzling new flavors that entirely rock your wine world.


Trends No. 2 and 3: Boxed Wines and Bubbly on Tap


Have you ever just wanted one glass of wine, but it pains you to open a bottle knowing the rest will be wasted? Imagine if you could pour one glass and drink the rest two weeks later. Or better yet, belly up to a bar and ask for a Prosecco — on tap! These are trends showing up all over the world, and they come with many benefits for the consumer, producers and manufacturers.


Boxed wines are losing their stigma for being inferior wines, mostly because the producers are able to put their money into making great wines versus investing in pricy packaging.


"Since most boxed wines must be consumed young, it makes sense for a wine maker to invest their dollars in the grapes and not a glass bottle and cork, which both can be very pricey. Corks alone can range anywhere from $.25 to $2," Hart says. Add labor and shipping costs, and you’ve got a very expensive bottle."


Other benefits of boxed wines include lower cost, less waste, slower oxidation process (meaning they last longer), and they are easier to ship. According to an article in the New York Times, switching the 97 percent of wines meant to be consumed in less than a year from bottles to boxes would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two million tons.


Not everyone is sold on the boxed wine trend even with the benefits from consuming and manufacturing this type of wine. Marty Piazza of Piazza Discepoli does not sell boxed wine in any of his three locations, Glendale, Madeira and White Oak. "I’m old fashioned: wine should come from a bottle, not from boxes or guns. I have heard that the quality of boxed wines is improving, but I am not interested. We have to pick our own niche, and mine is fine wines. I’ll leave the boxes and taps to someone else," Piazza says.


Regardless of what you go for, boxes or bottles, Hart suggests buying your wine from the smaller retail stores like Piazza Discepoli, Wine Merchant, Micro Wines and Hyde Park Gourmet.


"When wine is mass produced, the quality suffers," Hart says. "Purchasing from small retail shops, you’ll likely find better quality."


Hart’s seeing another fascinating movement to the States right now, bars pouring bubbly on tap. One of these early adapters is a bar in Brooklyn called the Carmine Club Cafe in the West Village. The bar started pouring prosecco on tap in early 2010, called "Carmine Club Cafe Cuvee," made by Italy’s Montelvini winery and sold for $8 a glass. According to the article, the drinks are flying out of the keg.


"I’m a massive advocate for sparkling wine. When it’s done in this style called Charmat (secondary fermentation in the bottle), the wines are simply killer," Hart says.


Imagine walking into a bar like Habits Cafein Oakley and ordering a glass of sparkling, straight out of tap, without investing in the entire bottle.


"They do it with beer," says Hart. "And people don’t get intimidated by beer, why can’t they do it with wines, too?"


An article in the Wall Street Journal explains how this technology works: "The fizz technology is different from that of a normal keg: The gas pressure is kept separated from the wine until it is tapped or shot out of a soda gun. It needs a lot of pressure — 32 to 33 pounds per square inch, or about car-tire pressure — to maintain fizz."


So there you have it, some unique wine tips, trends and secrets, compliments of Hart. Give him a big "thanks" next time you dine at Boca.


For more tips and wine recommendations from Hart, visit my blog at .