As Tweeted around yesterday by Grub Street, Brooklyn Oenology (BOE) has opened a tasting room in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This venue has been operating for almost two weeks now, showcasing its own label BOE Wines as well as wines, cider, and spirits produced in New York State. A friend of mine and I visited it on its opening night and really enjoyed the casual, slightly industrial, mildly rustic atmosphere. Most important of all, we liked the wines.
I'm a recent convert to New York State wines, and I’ve gotten to taste a few amazing ones at some of the food-related events to which I’ve been invited. Visiting the BOE Tasting Room gave me an opportunity to sample a few of the great bottles that Alie Shaper, owner and winemaker has created using New York State grapes (the premise of the label and brand). The staff is approachable, friendly, and knowledgeable about the wines that they carry and will assist you in getting to know the personalities of the vintages, as they did with my friend and I. What is interesting, too, is that the labels on the BOE bottles peel off so that you can keep a record of what you have sampled or create your own artists’ scrapbook with the gorgeous designs.
The wine menu allows you to try the wines by the taste, by the glass, or by the bottle. Wines are also available by purchasing flights of four tastes each. When my friend and I ordered two separate flights, it gave us the chance to dip into several varieties of New York State wine from a few different labels, but didn’t leave us so wined-out that we couldn’t consider going back to order a glass of our favorite find. Having been at other places where the flights had more glasses to try, I found that having just the four was the right amount and price point to make an enjoyable and light evening out.
A few weeks back, I had had a chance to try the BOE 2007 Social Club Red at Jimmy’s No. 43 as another friend and I were wrapping up our East Village Eats walking tour. I’m not an oenophile in any sense of the word, and my wine philosophy is that I enjoy those that are as drinkable on their own as they are paired with food. With one sip, I could see that this was one of those wines. Having tasted several of the other ones that Alie has produced as well, this seems to be characteristic of her wonderful work.
The BOE 2009 Rosé, which I enjoyed thoroughly, was the color of watermelon Jolly Ranchers, which is not to say that as a deterrent. As my server said “It’s as though people are trying to hang on to summer as long as possible,” which is what is making it a popular order. My thoughts are similar. Too often, people shy away from this particular wine because they think it is too light and frou-frou. This glass holds flavors of ripe summer melon and warm berries with enough tart sweet balance and robust flavor to make it a perfect bottle to share with friends or serve with a lighter meal.
The BOE 2009 Riesling “Friend” was filled with lighter, crisper fruit flavors without the sweetness that has usually made me shy away from this wine. These bottles come with the same beautiful, peel-away labels as the others in the BOE line; however, they also contain something special. Proceeds from these sales are donated to the cause for safety in pet food, an issue important to the artist who lost an animal due to toxicity in its food.
One of the wines that my friend and I both enjoyed enormously was the BOE 2005 Merlot, their original vintage. Its warm aroma and ruby red color just draw you into the glass. One sip is full of wonderful dark red fruits just filling your palate. This is the wine to savor for the colder months coming up whether by the fireplace or around the table eating a hearty roast dinner.
This is definitely what one could call a “local.” The art on the walls and on the wine labels is made by neighborhood talent, and the food to nibble on while sipping your beverages is also locally-made.* On the walls are creations made from pulling apart old wine barrels and layering them to create an uniquely thematic affect for a tasting room. Some of the décor was also reclaimed from the warehouse in which they are located. Their wines are available at several shops and restaurants, as listed on their website. At the present time, they do not ship outside of New York, although their products are available at some non-New York locations. If you are in town, I strongly encourage you to pay them a visit to try their wines for yourself.
Brooklyn Oenology (BOE) Tasting Room, 209 Wythe Avenue, between N. 4th and 3rd Streets, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (tel: 718-599-1259); venue can accommodate 65 people for events
*Foodstuff to sample and purchase include Jams from Schoolhouse Kitchen; jars of My Friend’s Mustard; Whiskey Sour Pickles and Fennel Beets from Brooklyn Brine Co.; potato and sweet potato chips from North Fork Potato Chips; and sweet treats by Tumbador Chocolate.