Proofing Our Wine Bar List: Terroir in the East Village
When we put up Our 10 Best Wine Bars last Friday, the wine bar missing from the list that readers most recommended was Terroir in the East Village. "How in the world could you not include Terroir," groused one commentator.
Well, we take the comments seriously-and never believed our rankings to be infallible anyway. So I made a beeline to Terroir last night with a friend in tow.
The place is very comfy and modern-looking. Seating is along the wine bar and at a communal table that dominates the room. Food prep is done at the bar's end with a small assortment of kitchen equipment, as at Gottino, from a collection of pre-prepped ingredients. The wine list is a thick loose-leaf binder, with a bewildering number of pages, interleafing white wine and red wine menus with strange pieces of art, possibly intended to be humorous. Some celebrate wine personalities; most are laid out like high school art projects.
If Terroir is a place aimed at the wine enthusiast, then I'm their baby. I love wine in all its forms, and try to sample as widely as possible. Nevertheless, I found the list at Terroir to be at first confusing, and then annoying. For one thing, I had to plough through many, many pages of Rieslings, an odd obsession that would be frustrating to most wine drinkers. Moreover, aside from a single bottle at $30, most of the Rieslings were in the $50 to $300 range, with some even more than that. As we all know, white wines are often better deals than reds, at liquor stores, wine bars, and restaurants. Not so at Terroir.
In fact, all the prices seemed out of whack. Three-ounce tastings, six-ounce glasses, and full bottles are offered for a only a handful of reds and whites, constituting a screwy collection in which most of the three-ounce tastings landed in the $7 to $15 range. That's a lot of cash per ounce, even for a wine bar, a genre which usually manages to offer full glasses at those prices. I appreciated that many of the wines are obscure and merited exploration, but why choose only expensive ones?