Dump your bold reds down the sink (don’t actually do this), and get ready to be schooled on some classic wine and meat pairings. While fussy and bougie steakhouses might point you toward a cabernet sauvignon, or something else jam packed with tannins, St. Anselm is here to kill those darlings. The not-quite-a-steakhouse-but-still-totally-a-steakhouse by Joe Carroll and Stephen Starr is expanding from Brooklyn to D.C.’s Union Market neighborhood, and they’re bringing along the atypical pairings, eclectic drink list and hearty meat focused menu that brought them rave reviews in NYC.
In anticipation of their opening, we spent an evening chatting with Carroll and Erik Segelbaum (who works with Starr’s other D.C. restaurant, Le Diplomate) about their ambitious wine program. St. Anselm’s D.C. location will have roughly double the amount of wine they house in their much smaller Brooklyn restaurant and both Carroll and Segelbaum are excited to introduce D.C. to their kind of steak and wine pairings.
Don’t Be Afraid of Orange Wine (But Don’t Buy Into the Hype Either)
The first wine Segelbaum pulls out of the 10 bottles he has scattered around one of the restaurants brand new tables is a Grenache Blanc from Berkeley’s Lusu Cellars ($59 per bottle). Segelbaum and Carroll explain that this grenache in particular includes some of the best properties of white and red wines combined; it has a great texture, but isn’t overly acidic. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of the wine world, but that doesn’t mean you should order orange wine just because it’s the hot new thing. Like with the natural wine movement (and other drink trends), be smart, ask questions and come with an open palate.
Champagne For My Real Steaks, Real Pain For My Sham Steaks
If you’re a fancy pants who wants to kick off a night of carnivorous gluttony with some bubbles, you’ve come to the right place. Carroll and Segelbaum the aptly named Pierre Paillard Bouzy Grand Cru ($64 per half bottle), which is bright, dry and easy going. This looks (and tastes) nothing like those $5 bottles of sparkling wine that managed to give you both a sugar and a booze hangover in college (although, those have their time and place too). Segelbaum was also quick to tell me that you should throw all of your champagne flutes away, and go for some glassware with a larger opening instead. So… go do that, I guess?
Stop Serving Warm Reds
As we cranked through a bottle of Swick Wines Petit Noir ($52 per bottle), Carroll schooled me on the importance of serving wine at the right temperature. Keep your wine away from sunlight, keep it as cool as you can, but if you can’t make it wine cellar chill, just make sure it’s not going through wild temperature fluctuations. Before you serve it, pop it in the fridge for a few minutes to bring it down to cellar temperature, then serve.
Drink More Madiera (and Sherry)
Yes, the wines most often associated with your grandparents are coming back baby. Not only that, but they pair incredibly well with the grilled meats and savory appetizers on St. Anselm’s dinner menu (or your home menu). Go wild and pair them with a good cheese plate and if you want to take a deep dive into some old madiera, swing by St. Anselm and try some pours off their rare list, including this D’Oliveiras Bastardo from 1927 ($48 per ounce).
Virginia Really Can Make Wine
Michael Shap’s Petite Manseng ($58 per bottle) was one of, if not the best wine I had that evening, proving that whatever snobby bullshit you’ve heard from your friends who vacation in Napa Valley is wrong. It has a delightful acidity with a fruity twinge that brings in just the right amount of sweetness. Don’t be afraid to show off your DMV pride, especially when it comes to booze.
Stephen Starr & Joe Carroll