Blackberry Farm

Our Friend of the Farm

Mannie Berk

Mannie Berk

 We sat down with Mannie Berk and asked him a few questions!  View here to see more about the Carte Blanche event here at Blackberry Farm!


To decant or not to decant? There are two reasons to decant, and they both apply most often to older wines. The first is to separate a red wine from sediment. The second is to allow older wines to aerate and "open up." I'm actually not convinced that you get much improvement from decanting most young wines, particularly those made by modern methods. I think that the wines that benefit most from aeration are those that have been traditionally made, which means they've been exposed to a fair amount of oxygen during their upbringing in barrel. Wines like traditionally made Barolo, Rhones and Riojas, and of course Madeiras, really blossom in a decanter, while most young Super Tuscans or young Cabernets do not. Of course, there's a third reason to decant and that is to have a beautiful decanter gracing your table, instead of a bottle. That's a reason that works for almost any wine!

Besides your own wine, what do you like to drink? There are perhaps two or three dozen producers whose wines I'm really devoted to. We represent some of them, but it doesn't stop me from collecting, drinking and recommending those we don't represent. Among those we don't represent, some of my favorites include Bartolo Mascarello and Giuseppe Rinaldi in Piedmont (Italy), Jamet in the Northern Rhone, Jean-Marc Roulot in Meursault, and Vincent Dauvissat and Raveneau in Chablis. 

Screw cap or cork? Until we know more about how wines age under different kinds of closures, I think that cork is the best choice for wines intended for long aging. But for wines meant to be drunk young (which is 99% of the world's wine production), a cork is unnecessary and needlessly contributes to the worldwide shortage of cork. 

What glassware do you like? I think that wineglasses with crystal bowls are essential to maximizing your enjoyment of fine wines, but other than that, I'm not very demanding. At home, for most of the red wines I drink, as well as some whites, I tend to stick with relatively straightforward Red Burgundy-style glasses that are about 25 ounces in capacity and not terribly expensive. I do prefer to drink great Champagne from a white Burgundy glass and not a flute.

Most memorable meal? In 1987, a seven-hour private dinner cooked by Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Lafayette in the Drake Hotel, just after he arrived in New York City and was not yet 30 years old.

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