Episode 363 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Danny Meyer, the CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group. USHG is the group responsible for Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino, Untitled, Blue Smoke, and other restaurants in New York City, as well as the many Shake Shack locations throughout the world.
A lot of people think of Danny Meyer as a successful restaurateur, and in fact, he may be THE successful restaurateur of our time, having opened highly lauded fine dining restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, as well as fast casual successes like Shake Shack. But Danny is also a great lover of wine, and this interview goes from his early days drinking Beaujolais in the backyard with his father to some of the great wine destinations of Europe (Taillevent’s Jean-Claude Vrinat was a mentor) and New York City (Danny shared many a bottle with Pat Cetta at Sparks Steak House). Along the way, there are litros in Roman trattorias and bottles of Cahors with classic cassoulet. Having developed a relationship with Robert Chadderdon early in his career, Danny found himself at long tastings in the cellars of Giuseppe Quintarelli in the Veneto and Jacques Reynaud at Chateau Rayas. The audience with Reynaud is especially rare, and Danny remembers getting to Rayas and brandishing a copy of the Union Square Cafe wine list – featuring several of Reynaud’s wines – in order to prove his bonafides to the skeptical vigneron. During the conversation in this episode, Danny shares what is important to him in wine appreciation, whether it is the finish of a wine, or its presentation and selection. Plus, there was that time that he held a too cold bottle of Italian white between his thighs before sending it out to a fastidious restaurant reviewer from The New York Times. All in all, this is a full sensory engagement with wine, over a lifetime.
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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine