As so-called haute-casual restaurants have grown more ambitious, their wine lists have followed suit — unfortunately, that also means prices have moved upward. (At ABC Cocina, you can wash down your BLT tacos with a $200 '07 Ferrer Bobet Carignane or $210 '08 Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir, if you're feeling so inclined.) Yes, the variety of wines on offer is fantastic, but if you're not a wine connoisseur, it can also be frustrating to find something good without also looking like you're just going for the third-cheapest bottle on the list. So, to help, Grub Street has enlisted the expert advice of Rom Toulon — managing partner of Tribeca's new 24 Hubert Wines and former wine director at Napa Valley's three-Michelin-star Meadowood — to pick the best $50-and-under bottles at sixteen of the city's buzziest spots. Take it away, Rom.
White: Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, Domaine de la Pépière, Loire Valley, France, 2011 ($35)
"Crisp and complex, this Muscadet has aromas of honeyed orange with a briny minerality on the palate."
Red: Crozes-Hermitage, Etienne Bécheras, Rhone Valley, France, 2011 ($48)
"Purple flowers, cassis, red currant, blackberry, and dusty graphite are balanced by beautiful tannins — setting this wine up to be age-worthy."
Pearl & Ash
White: Chardonnay, Au Bon Climat, Santa Barbara County, USA, 2011 ($45)
"Textured and full, with fresh acidity and ripe lemon citrus."
Red: Arbois Pupillin "Ploussard," Renardière, Jura, France, 2011 ($47)
"This wine has fresh red fruits and light spice integrated with peppery notes on the finish."
White: Pinot Gris, Domaine Zinck, Alsace, France, 2010 ($44)
"An aromatic, full-bodied wine that displays ripe exotic fruits, with hints of pepper and mouthwatering acidity."
Red: "Fleurie," Christophe Pacalet, Beaujolais, France, 2011 ($38)
"This Gamay is a fruit-forward wine with positive acidity and a refreshing finish."
White: Quincy, Domaine Mardon, Loire Valley, France, 2011 ($40)
"This Sauvignon Blanc is pale yellow with flecks of green. It is a highly aromatic wine displaying ripe citrus and stone fruits."
Red: Vin de Pays, Yves Leccia, Corsica, France, 2011 ($40)
"This unique wine from the island of Corsica displays ripe red currants and a light herbaceous quality, with approachable tannins and a smooth finish."
White: Grechetto Colli Martani "Grecante," Arnaldo Caprai, Umbria, Italy, 2011 ($48)
"The 2011 Grechetto is a refreshing white wine with peach, citrus, and earthy minerality."
Red: Etna Rosso, Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Sicily, Italy, 2011 ($48)
"This full-bodied wine has soft aromas of dried red fruits with soft tannins and a beautiful finish."
White: Gaillac "Perle," Domaine Philamon, South-West, France, 2011 ($40)
"The 2011 'Perle' is a dry wine that displays bright citrus notes, crisp acidity, and a touch of effervescence."
Red: Château du Juge, Première Cotes de Bordeaux, France, 2009 ($40)
"This Merlot-dominated blend is a full-bodied wine, rich with ripe fruit, notes of tobacco, and chewy tannins."
White: Roero "arneis," Brovia, Piemonte, Italy, 2012 ($48)
"Well-balanced and elegant white wine with fresh citrus, floral, and hints of almonds. It has a crisp and clean finish."
Red: Aglianico le Fole, Cantina Giardino, Campania, Italy, 2009 ($45)
"A rustic and robust hearty red wine from the south of Italy with rich red raspberries, notes of ginger, white pepper, and strong tannins."
White: Corbières, Domaine Guillaume Cabrol, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 2011 ($40)
"This wine is tangy and crisp with bright citrus notes, touches of apricot, and a smooth finish."
Red: Bourgueil "Bonn'Heure," Domaine de la Chevalerie, Loire Valley, France, 2011 ($50)
"A wonderful example of classic Cabernet Franc from Bourgueil: vibrant rich wild blackberries, bell pepper, hints of graphite, and iron."
White: Grüner Veltliner "Terrassen Federspiel," Domäne Wachau, Wachau, Austria 2011 ($49)
"Crunchy acidity, savory citrus, and intriguing spice."
Red: Cahors, Clos La Coutale, South-West, France, 2010 ($40)
"Aromas of ripe red and blue fruits, rustic spices, and smooth tannins."
White: Furmint Sec, Királyudvar, Tokaji, Hungary, 2010 ($40)
"Viscous intensity and bright acidity balanced by a moderate sweetness, beautiful floral, and citrus flavors with a stony minerality."
Red: Ponce "Clos Lojen," Manchuela, Spain, 2011 ($35)
"A rich fruit-forward wine with blueberry, black plum, raspberry, and firm tannins."
White: Riesling-Sylvaner-Auxerrois "Saveurs," Domaine Binner, Alsace, France, 2012 ($35)
"Elegantly aromatic, and rich with exotic fruits — all of which are balanced by a refreshing minerality."
Red: Lemberger, Damiani Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes, USA, 2011 ($50)
"Big and bold blackberries and sour cherries ... slightly vegetal, with rich yet soft tannins."
White: Ischia Bianco, Pietra Brox, Giardini Arimei, Campania, Italy, 2011 ($45)
"Beautiful aromas of white flowers laden with light spices."
Red: Rosso di Montepulciano, Podee Casanova, Tuscany, Italy, 2005 ($47)
"This is a serious wine packed with cherry, chocolate, espresso, and dusty cedar notes."
White: Torrentés, Laborum, Salta, Argentina, 2011 ($38)
"It's full of tropical fruit with the subtle floral notes that exemplify this unique variety."
Red: Brancellao, Forlon Hope, Sierra Foothills, USA, 2012 ($48)
"Versatile and very aromatic with red fruits. It has a medium finish."
White: Chablis, Domaine Desvignes, Burgundy, France, 2010 ($40)
"Light-bodied Chardonnay with crisp, clean flavors, and a vibrant acidity balanced by ripe citrus."
Red: Merlot, Westrey Vineyards, Happy Canyon, USA, 2007 ($45)
"Displays floral notes of roses and ripe raspberries, with hints of cinnamon and clove on the finish."
White: Assyrtiko, Hatzidakis, Santorini, Greece, 2012 ($38)
"Mouth-watering acidity, hints of apricot, white pepper, and refreshing minerality on the finish."
Red: Teroldego Rotaliano, Cipriano, Trentino, Alto Adige, Italy, 2011 ($44)
"Aromas of savory and spiced herbs, expressions of raspberry and strawberry, and a light mineral dusting on the finish."
White: Riesling Kabinett, Eugen Müller Forster Mariengarten, Pfalz, Germany, 2011 ($39)
"Stunning, with lush citrus, white floral bouquet, and a zesty acidity on the finish."
Red: Syrah/Garnacha, Finca Sandoval, Manchuela, Spain, 2009 ($42)
"Deep, intense purple, and the aromas evoke barnyard funk with red and black fruits and rich tannins."