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Finally, Manresa! But what to drink? Winehounds?

Finally my friend's birthday rolls around, and we are going to Manresa the first weekend of October. Tasting Menu is the obvious choice. But what should we do for wine?

I've read mixed reviews of the pairings. Are they worth getting? Is the standard pairing good or is it necessary to splurge for the premium?

As a note, a pet peeve of mine is a pairing list that drowns you in white before you finally get to enjoy the red with your last course or 2.

Would I be better off ordering off their wine list, or will i be subject to TFL-style ridiculous mark-ups? Should I just bring 2 bottles from my cellar and eat the corkage? Or 1 and order 1 off the list? Any particular recommendations off the list (please include approximate price, if possible)?

Finally, any other general tips and tricks for having the best experience imaginable at Manresa? Many thanks for the input!

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  1. I was very impressed with the pairings. We did one of each and more often than not I found the ones from the cheaper set more interesting but both were great.

    I won't order the tasting menu again, but that's nothing particular to do with Manresa.

    1. I'd go with the pairings. At a restaurant of this level, the wine you are served with each course is an integral part of the experience. It isn't just a wine, it is a wine that adds to the food. Plus, the wine director at Manresa does an excellent job.

      1. I'd avoid the pairing unless you can drink a lot. I went with some 5 friends, some really into wine. After a discussion with the sommelier, we went with local wines (Santa Cruz, etc.) to match blocks of courses which worked very well. I think it was sparkling wine, a white and two or three reds. The prices for the local wines were, very very reasonable, almost surprisingly so.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          The sommelier is great and sources some hard-to-find local wines, such as Ahlgren.

          Here's my report on the meal I had there last year with a few notes on the pairings:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/548333

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Thanks, I do like the local wine idea for a few courses, though we're certainly biased toward old-world. And luckily, drinking a lot is not a problem!

            1. re: PAHound

              Given the cuisine (esp. the tasting menu) isn't old world (lots of local and seafood), you might consider steering away from the heavy and dark old world stuff. The local stuff does this almost by default.

              The way the tasting menu is set up (at least when I went) the heavier courses come toward the middle-latter part of the meal. Since it's tasting size portions, one glass of big red/old world is all you might need but that's subjective and of course the menu will dictate.

              1. re: ML8000

                "... you might consider steering away from the heavy and dark old world stuff."

                That's not what "old-world" suggests to me:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/373505

              2. re: PAHound

                I find most California wines undrinkable, but the ones the sommelier chose for the pairing were quite atypical.

          2. I have always done the tasting menu + pairing and been very happy with it, every time. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of wine involved though. If you can handle the quantity of alcohol, my vote would be to go for the pairing... that way you get to taste a lot of different wines as well (which I normally would not have drunk otherwise)

            1. I'm a detractor in that I've never been a huge fan of their pairings. As the bulk of what Kinch does that is so good is seafood, I would get a really good bottle of Rhone white blend or Gruner Veltliner and maybe just order a glass of Pinot near the end of the meal.