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On the House: How Global Warming is Screwing Up My Wine Pars (or: Please Start Ordering the Red)

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On the House is our regular column written by the owners and operators of the great food and beverage establishments of New York. Today, your proprietor is Mr. William Tigertt of Freemans.

2006_09_onethehouseA.jpgEvery year the change of the seasons in the city is marked in myriad of ways from the obvious natural cues of the foliage to the oddly autumnal Spring Fashion Week in Byrant Park. Menu changes in the restaurant world are dictated by the farmers' market and the availability of produce. You want fiddleheads in the dead of winter? Too bad there’s none to be had, and they don’t import them from Peru.

Alcohol consumption as well goes through a tectonic shift with the change in weather. In the warmer months casual white wine make up seventy percent of sales. Then when the mercury drops and the NYC groupthink hive deems it’s proper, the ratio flips on its head, and everyone starts drinking red. The changeover is fast - normally less than a week. If you caught unaware, half of your wine stock can be wiped out over a weekend.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work, and as long as you’re paying attention it’s all well and good. The whites gets their time in the sun, and then in the long nights of the winter the cellar gets raided of the older, deeper reds.

Unfortunately, over the past few years unseasonable warm weather has been reeking havoc on this natural order. Last year the white wine season extended almost to Christmas with just a few red wine interludes during week-long cold snaps. This problem has been compounded by the rise in popularity of rose wine, the frilly bi-sexual consort of the wine color wars. It used to be that rose was only imported during the hot summer months. Now between domestic production, expanded distribution and the odd lux-ization by Domaine Ott and rose Champagne producers the pink stuff is no longer content to put away with the seersucker suits and white shoes after Labor Day. I’m seeing full rose menus around the city all year around.

I think the moral of this simple story is there a time and place for all types of wine, and that like the classic rules of white meat, white wine and red meat, red wine; weather should just be a starting place. As New York slowly assumes the climate of Washington D.C. or more likely Savannah, Georgia – we shouldn’t forsake the seasonal shifts in our drinking. Now that the fall weather is finally here, mild as it may be, I implore you: embrace red wine and dark spirits and leave the rose for the spring when the tank tops and tulips start to sprout. —WDT