Brooklyn Oenology (BOE) isn’t what you think of when you think of a winery. There you won’t find vineyards, a barrel room, tanks or even a cellar. But don’t be mistaken — it’s a serious winery, albeit in an urban setting. It’s a hybrid wine bar/retail store/art gallery with a hyper-focus on not just New York, but specifically Brooklyn. The environment is well-thought, masterfully curated and, above all, comfortable.
Owner and winemaker Alie Shaper sources grapes from Long Island and the Finger Lakes and makes white, rose, orange and red wines at Premium Wine Group, a custom-crush facility on the North Fork of Long Island. There are currently 11 BOE wines on offer. Summer favorites include the popular Social Club White, which is a clean, fresh chardonnay-based blend named after the Italian social clubs found in historic Brooklyn. Another white wine, Shindig, is mostly vidal blanc with a touch of riesling. It’s a collaboration between BOE and Vino50, a portfolio of American wines curated by sommelier Andrew Stover, and is intended to highlight the wines of New York State. There’s also a new sparkling wine – Shindig Fizzi — but I haven’t tried that yet.
There are many things that are thoughtful and about the BOE concept. One in particular is the labels for BOE wines. Different Brooklyn artwork is selected for each wine. According to a BOE employee, Alie didn’t like throwing out the art with each empty bottle. So BOE found a label producer that allows consumers to peel off the label and save it. Another neat feature: Some wines, like the well-balanced, off-dry 2012 Friend Riesling offers a percentage of sales to causes that supports safe food sources for furry friends.
The impetus for my recent visit to BOE was the monthly oyster extravaganza — the next one will be on Saturday, September 21, 2013 — featuring $1 Blue Point oysters. Every wine on the menu is available by the glass, and wines on offer included all BOE wines as well as other New York wines, beers and spirits. The list is extensive, if not exhaustive, on the spirits end.
Fun menu item: A “pickleback,” which is a shot of whiskey followed by a pickle brine chaser, available for $5 at the oyster extravaganza. The regular menu, featuring New York cheeses and charcuterie, is excellent.
At the August event, there was a steady flow of people — full, but not overly crowded, and the service was attentive, friendly and knowledgeable. There’s a real sense of community around New York creations, and programming to sustain it, including Monday Movie nights, weekday 2-for-1 happy hours, Friday art walks, wine classes — the list goes on.
Brooklyn Oenology | 209 Wythe Avenue | Brooklyn, NY 11211