In a series of five articles, six restaurant industry experts, with over 100 years of combined experience, from five of Denver’s Union Station restaurants, will share their tips on the best way for beginners to learn more about wine. Our first interview features wine tips for new wine lovers from Beth Gruitch, proprietor and Court of Masters Sommelier, at Stoic & Genuine (restaurant).
WineLoversVillage (WLV) tapped into the expertise of restaurant owners and managers, chefs and sommeliers of the newest and hottest food and wine destination in Denver, the newly renovated Union Station. Located in the heart of downtown Denver’s LoDo neighborhood and two blocks from Coors Field, this dining, shopping and entertainment complex features an exceptional variety of the city’s top restaurants, bars, and shops – and of course, the new boutique hotel, the Crawford.
Participating in these Q&As are: Stoic & Genuine, The Copper Lounge, Mercantile Dining & Provision, The Terminal Bar, and Next Door Union Station.
Introducing Beth Gruitch, Stoic & Genuine, Denver Union Station
Let’s start with Beth Gruitch, Court of Masters Sommelier and Restaurant Proprietor. With 30 years in the restaurant industry, she is one of the owners of multiple well-known Denver restaurants: Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Euclid Hall, and the latest addition, Union Station’s Stoic & Genuine. Stoic & Genuine is a modern take on seafood that is sometimes innovative, sometimes classic—but always fresh.
Her restaurant experience came with various front of the house titles, including dishwasher, until Gruitch and her business partner opened their first restaurant 10.5 years ago. She received her first level of certification through the Court of Masters. She has decided not to continue with the second level due to time constraints of running all these restaurants.
Instead she says, “I personally have chosen to continue my wine education through tastings.” (We like her style, don’t you?)
WLV: For beginning wine lovers, it can be overwhelming to learn about wine. What advice might you offer these newbie “winers” to get over their fears and learn about wine?
Gruitch: Don’t be afraid or intimidated by a glass of wine. I always tell people that there really ins’t a wrong answer. The most important thing is that you like what you are drinking. Taste as much as you can.
Service staff are generally very knowledgeable and willing to share. When you’re at a restaurant, ask a bartender or server to bring you a taste of wine, perhaps their favorite, or something you’d like to try. See if you like it, explore it.
WLV: What’s the best way to start with the basics of wine?
Wine or tasting groups are a great way to sample different wines. Get the basics of wine down by only buying single varietal correct wines. For example, have your tasting group all bring a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from different regions and countries.
The Wine Bible is also a great resource. Read about the varieties you are tasting. Pull up the tasting notes on websites, too.
WLV: How can a “newbie” find classic wines on a Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck budget?
Gruitch: There are plenty of “affordable” wines out there for “every day drinkers.” Be honest about what you want, whether it’s at a restaurant or at the liquor store. Let them know what you are doing and what you want to learn. If you want to spend under $15, tell them. I’ve always been fond of Spanish wines for their versatility and price points. Second labels are also a great place to get good deals on normally high profile producers.
Ask your server, sommelier, or wine store rep to suggest something. Let them know what you have liked in the past, so they can work with you.
WLV: What is your favorite go-to-wine at Stoic & Genuine and what menu item would you recommend as the best pairing?
Gruitch: Although not for everyone, I love bubbles for their versatility, start to finish. I’d recommend Torres Vina Esmeralda Moscato from Penedes (Spain) paired with our signature dish Artichoke Tortellini. I love how the lightly floral wine plays with the earthiness of the artichoke and goat cheese filled pasta. Complete this with the lavender sourdough bread – unbelievable!
WLV: Tell us about the wine tasting experience at Stoic & Genuine.
Gruitch: I love that we offer half glasses on our wine menu, and we are also happy to allow tastings by the glass. Education our service staff is a top priority for me. There are plenty of wines out there, many I have never heard of, and plenty that I will never hear of, but if I know what I like about a certain wine, an educated service member can really help me choose the best wine for my meal.
WLV: Any other tips?
Grutich: Don’t over spend to impress. It’s really not necessary. Most of the time name droppers really don’t make (or taste) the difference. If you want to impress, then ask for a well-known name and go for it.
Downtown Denver’s Union Station is the perfect wine and dine destination with a progressive food and wine tasting at Denver Union Station restaurants. The finale? Don’t drink and drive. Treat yourself to a stay at the Crawford Hotel. This Union Station boutique hotel captivates the magic of train travel and the Victorian era.