The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 146 of 148

146  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2017 When Jen Fields creates wine lists for the Alden & Harlow Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she knows she needs a tight game plan. "The size of the lists is pretty much deter- mined by how much space I have on the page. It's so small no wines can really overlap." Chef Michael Scelfo's intensely powerful flavors require thoughtful pairing choices: orange wines for his American small plates or ocean-influenced reds for his New England coastal dishes. "I picked my favorite wines that went with his food. It's not particularly intellectual. But wine programs that don't have a soul behind them are weird to me. I don't want to go somewhere that has really great food with a wine list that's an afterthought that doesn't mirror it." Jen is guided by factors that influence wine, such as fog, altitude, rivers and history. Within categories like "Lost at Sea," "Vertigo" and "Riverbend" lie Croatian Plavac Mali, Hungarian Pinot Gris and Langhe Nascetta. "'Naturalized Citizens' is probably my favorite category. I originally didn't think I was going to list much California wine at all, but all of these cool producers like Broc Cellars, Elizia and Forlorn Hope are vinifying grapes that don't necessarily come from there, like Albariño and Picpoul, but they always make delicious wines." Jen considers her lists mixed tapes of wines: "What's the point of having five Chablis unless your list is only one region? If you're going to have food that's all over the place, you should have a list that's all over the place with something different for everyone." TAKING INVENTORY WITH . . . Places with interesting glass pours I've never seen, especially if the staff is really excited about something and want people to try it. Multiple sparkling wines by the glass. As a big sparkling wine drinker, I find that lists with only one or two options can be pretty boring. Lists that offer a lot of excel- lent affordable bottles. I'm fortunate to taste a lot of expensive wines for work, but when I go out to dinner I don't want to drop $100 on a bottle. Restaurants that focus on small plates with lots of different items to try. Mencia and lamb is my favorite combo ever, and we have this really sick lamb dish on the menu. It's a pretty bomb pairing. Staff that isn't passionate about what they're selling. I want them to say, "I love this wine," and have their faces light up. Restaurants that are too bright and play music too quietly can ruin the vibe. You don't want guests to suddenly hear the staff's conversation and notice things that shouldn't be noticed. Bad glassware that doesn't let you swirl your wine. Oxidized glass pours. Nothing more annoying than spending $15 on a glass of wine that was opened a few days ago. Places that don't taste you on glass pours. THE "5" LIST JEN FIELDS'S TOP FIVE FAVES JEN FIELDS'S TOP FIVE PET PEEVES JEN FIELDS DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS AND WINE DIRECTOR, ALDEN & HARLOW GROUP, CAMBRIDGE, MA by Kate Webber PHOTO: HUGE GALDONES

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - January / February 2017