I won’t hide my love for Northside Social. The coffee is great (Northside topped our reader poll for best coffee shops). The ambience harks back to old-school coffeehouse, where many others have gone mod and, dare I say, clinical.
But it was only recently that I stumbled upon Northside’s sommelier Alison Christ and the wine events she has been quietly whipping up for regulars.
Wine tastings rarely entail much more than sipping a few splashes of wine and, if you’re truly lucky, scoring a wedge of cheese and some crackers to pair with your pinot, but Christ and the chefs at Northside Social host a perfect date night, wine tasting for novices and awesome dinner rolled into one.
Intrigued? The next event is Jan. 12 with Allie Sharper, owner and winemaker of New York’s Brooklyn Oenology; five small plates will be paired with pours of Sharper’s wines. Reserve a spot now; it’s a deal at just $40 per person. (Check out my review of a recent wine event here.)
Call them winemaker mini-dinners, where the pours are generous and the food pairings, though small, can be downright stunning. Think: housemade cheeses, slivers of smoked salmon and sweet, jammy tarts — all planned well ahead of time to go perfectly with the wine you’re tasting. And you get a chance to meet a real winemaker and hear about the wines as you sip. The atmosphere is casual, not formal like a class nor hurried like a typical tasting.
“I rarely do events unless I have the winemaker or the owner of the winery,” Christ, the sommelier, told me. “You could come talk to me about wine any day; there’s nothing special about that.” Northside Social has hosted various other events, too, such as a pig roast, cooking classes and a holiday cookie-decorating party.
Priced at not much more than a dinner elsewhere, the tastings typically feature four or five wines. (A vegetarian, I called ahead to let the restaurant know that before a recent tasting, and the restaurant graciously accommodated me for all five courses.)
“We’re really not trying to make a profit on these events,” Christ explained. “I’m trying to build the community, to get people coming and experimenting with new wines. Bringing the winemakers is really important.”