You know it's not a regular wine tasting when someone holds up a glass and says, "Hmm, smells like grapefruit"and the glass has grapefruit segments in it. But that's the idea behind the wine-tasting party that chef Marc Murphy of Manhattan's new Landmarc and his wife, Pamela Schein Murphy, are throwing to teach people the vocabulary to describe aromas in wine. On a long table in their apartment, the Murphys set out nine bottles of wine along with glasses holding an ingredient that matches a prominent aroma in eachblueberries, say, for an Argentinean Malbec. One guest sniffs from a glass containing honeycomb, then sips from a glass of Labouré-Roi St. Armand Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay. Another takes a whiff from a glass with a wedge of green pepper, then tries a Bordeaux and says, "Whoa, definitely green pepper."
Marc is the perfect person to host a component tasting party, because he thinks about wine even more than most chefs do. Landmarc has gotten attention not only for its refined comfort food, but also for its well-priced wine list; customers pay roughly retail prices for bottles rather than the usual 200 to 300 percent restaurant markup. Diners can order a half-bottle for the same amount they would pay for a glass elsewhere. Or they can try a bottle of one of Napa Valley's most famous Cabernet blends, the 2000 Joseph Phelps Insignia, for only $120about $10 more than the price at a wine shop (assuming you could even find it there) and about half what it would cost in most restaurants.
Landmarc keeps its prices low because the Murphys want it to be a neighborhood restaurant. "I had all this high-end experience at places like Le Miraville in Paris and Cellar in the Sky and Le Cirque in New York City. I wanted to open a place my friends could go to every night," Marc says. And he's succeeded: "There's not a night where there aren't four or five tables of people Pam and I know really well," he says.