Got Wine? | Being Zev Rovine

We have wine. After a Sisyphean winter, pushing a rock the size of Bloomville up and down the bureaucratic corridors of Albany, the certificate finally landed at the Post Office a couple of weeks ago. No fanfare, no parting of clouds, no white-bearded deity gazing down benignly from on high. You’d think they’d have sent an emissary, crowned our heads with laurels, handed us a golden pig. No such thing. Still, after months of imploring the faithful to wash down pizza with house-made spruce-tip soda, it was an epiphany just to be able to run round the premises waving the document like we’d discovered the last Willy Wonka ticket.

So we were allowed to sell wine. Which was great; except we didn’t have any. Insert image of Inez in white Pierrot makeup, striped shirt, battered hat with red geranium, miming the pouring of sauvignon blanc into the imaginary glasses of delighted customers, everybody grinning like Julia Roberts on ketamine and doing exaggerated versions of that ‘zut alors! c’est merveilleux!’ finger-kissing thing that french people do.

We called Low Sulfite Zev on the Batphone. The engine of his VW Golf was already purring. He slid right down the pole and hightailed it north, from Brooklyn to Albany to Bloomville on a single macchiato, screeching to a rubbery halt outside Table on Ten only moments before we were due to open the doors for pizza night. As dusk fell, case-upon-case of variously biodynamic, organic, non-sulphuric, low-yeast-no-yeast contraband were surreptitiously shuttled from trunk to basement like a scene from Treasure Island with Cindy in the role of Long John Silver, stamping her wooden leg in delight and squawking Pieces of Eight! Pieces of Eight” in her best Amazonian Parakeet.

Zev Rovine and Rubens' Bacchus
Zev Rovine and Rubens’ Bacchus

We don’t claim to know a lot about wine. We know what it tastes like and we know what it does; takes an okay afternoon and makes it a better evening. We’ve heard it can do more than that  – ask Lot’s daughters – but at Table on Ten we’re making an effort to keep things pretty congenial.

But Zev Rovine does. He knows. Don’t be fooled by the Bushwick beard-and-do and the APC New Standards. This is a man who spends half the year wandering the variously flinty, sandy, chalky and loamy appellations of rural France, hanging with dudes who look like Gerard Depardieu’s dad. Zev can say the word terroir without blushing. He even does that ‘spitting the wine into a plastic bucket after you’ve tasted it’ thing that you thought was the provenance of retired Canadian university lecturers on Butterfield & Robinson bicycle tours (in stark contrast to the Table on Ten crew, slugging down each new offering with all the restraint of a litter of labradors). Zev provides the wines for our friends at The PINES in Gowanus, that’s how we met him. Which is in keeping with the sort-of-happenstance ethos that has evolved at Table on Ten over the past year: to take the instinct of what we believe and augment it with the expertise of friends and colleagues who bring their like-mindedness to whatever new arcana we all find ourselves exploring. In the case of Zev, his championing of small vineyards in rural backwaters of Europe echoes our emphasis on small farms along the dirt roads of Delaware County. Add to that a healthy dose of byiodynamics and organic practices (but almost no sulfites) and it’s the bedrock of a good marriage. Or at least a country romance with strings attached.

The wine list is new and evolving. We made an effort to cover the bases as simply as we could. Solid reds and whites with one or two that are a little more challenging. A delicious, affordable rosé and a french sparkling white. It’s unapologetically not a huge list, but everything on it is artisanal, produced small-scale, with care, patience and the minimum of other stuff – stuff that isn’t grapes – added. Because Zev works with small producers, often quantities are limited; so the list will be constantly changing as we lose some wines and gain others. And, as always, we’re really curious about what everybody thinks. People have been stamping on grapes, fermenting them and guzzling the results since before Uncle Ekhinos drove his ox-cart into a ditch off the old Corinth to Mycenae road around 1600 BC. The Armenians might have been at it even earlier and the Persians and Georgians too. Now you can hop on an 8000 year old tradition right here in Bloomville New York, along the verdant banks of County Route 10. Prepare to roll up your trouser cuffs.