Daniel Wine Pairings: Yes or No?
What do they pour with each course?
How generous a pour?
Is it a worthwhile expense, or should I order by the bottle?
My original inquiry went unanswered, so I had to seek an answer in person.
Daniel's 3-course prix-fixe is currently $108 (and worth every penny by four-star standards).
They also offer a wine pairing for an additional $60 per person.
Whether it is worth the money is a matter of personal taste. Here's why:
When you order the wine pairing, your menu choices are discussed with one of the sommeliers, who will then pour you a glass of a different wine with each course.
So, you get a glass with your app, a glass with your main and a glass with your dessert.
You are essentially paying $20 per glass, which is a bit high, but the surprise factor and the variety makes that price worthwhile. During a recent meal at Daniel with my wife, we were each poured three different wines and offered some narration from our server or from the wine professional about each.
For example, with my raviolini with langoustines, I was poured (approx. 4 ounces) of a white wine from Bandol. With my wife's sashimi of Tai snapper, she received a pour of a gruner vetliner. With my main course of Daniel's signature slow-baked sea bass, I was poured a pinot noir by Copain Vineyards from the Alexander Valley. My wife was poured a pinot from the Vosne-Romanee in Burgundy, allowing us to make some comparisons between old-world and new-world pinots (the Copain was the hands-down favorite). With dessert, my wife received a delighful, nectar-like Tokaji from Hungary, while I was served a sparkling moscato d'Asti from Italy.
There are certainly ways to spend less than $120 a couple for an excellent bottle of wine at Daniel. But, occasionally, it is nice to put yourself in the hands of a wine professional and to have a different wine with each course. In those situations, $60 per person is certainly a fair price to pay for the variety and the professional care given in the selection of wines.
Incidentally, a server thanked me at the conclusion of our meal for allowing the staff the freedom to select wines for us. Nice touch!
I love pairings, and at Daniel they are a bit adventurous. Like the pinot noir w/fish - in my case with the Char w/ morels. Was the best dish of the night. The pours are too small for a sip w/ each bite, but they may top off in some cases. I doubt a single bottle could be so perfectly matched for all courses, even if perhaps more excellent in some cases.