Ever heard of a Goliath bottle of wine? Neither had Chef José Andrés before spotting one at a restaurant on a recent trip to Spain:
“I knew I had to bring that back to Bazaar Meat because — come on, people! Vegas is all about being big! And we wanted the biggest we could get, so now we are serving wines by the glass from bottles made just for us. The wine is from some unbelievable vineyards including Leviathan, Fable Mountain Vineyards, Qupé and Sandhi and ages astonishingly well in these bottles”
These Goliath size bottles of wine hold the equivalent of 36 bottles, and are now being poured at Bazaar Meat by José Andrés to pair perfectly with Andrés’ meat-centric menu.
We sat down with Bazaar Meat by José Andrés’ lead sommelier, Chloe Helfand, to hear all about these larger than life wine bottles and how to act savvy when ordering.
Tell me about the goliath bottles.
They are 27 liters, which is the equivalent of 36 regular 750ml bottles. We have four selections at a time from Terroir [a collection of wineries that are benchmarks for their quality, typicity, character and value]—Leviathan is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Syrah blend from California; Qupé Syrah from Bien Nacido, which is one of the most iconic vineyards in Central Coast, Santa Barbara County; Fable Vineyards Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre from South Africa; and Sandhi Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills. Each 27-liter bottle was $1000 and made in Italy. We have specially made wine keepers that were $5000 to build and that were designed to display these bottles. The wine keeper inserts nitrogen into the bottle while we pour out of it. We’re trying to have fun with something larger than life, which fits José!
Many guests are intimidated to have a sommelier approach the table or to ask to speak to a sommelier, so how do you overcome that or what would you tell guests who feel that way?
I always like to approach a table with a smile. You can pretty much gauge in the first five seconds after you’re at a table if you’re going to have the kind of guest who is open to having a conversation or they want to be in control of their wine selection. Either way, I am there to assist in their wine buying. My job is to figure out how I’m going to approach the table and start a conversation to connect with our guests. It’s almost like a psychological assessment to determine really what our guests want from their experience. The goal is to eliminate the intimidation factor, develop a relationship and answer questions the guests may have in an easy, warm and welcoming manor.
What’s the best way for someone who’s not as savvy about wine to learn more about it?
There are many different ways. Experiencing wine is very personal for people. It depends what you want out of it. Go to wine bars or wine centric restaurants with lots of btg options. Try a small pour, create your own flight or have the sommelier create a flight for you. Lots of books, lots of tasting, lots of wine buying in your local wine stores. Develop a relationship with someone who buys wine, sells wine and or your favorite sommelier? Lastly, I would definitely suggest going to wine country, because people are wonderful in the wine business. Behind every great wine there is a great story.
Is it okay to ask for tastes of wine in a restaurant?
In restaurants like Bazaar Meat where you have sommeliers on the floor, please ask questions so we may help you find what you would like to enjoy. It is our job to make you feel comfortable and help you find out what you want to drink for the evening. We are happy to give you tastes from our by the glass list. I highly recommend not ordering a bottle just based on expected flavor profile or price point—ask the somm, or ask your server. Your server should have a base of knowledge and can steer you in the right direction. Your sommelier should always be able to find a wine in varied price points and flavor profiles to complete your meal experience.