Sommelier Sebastian Zutant only pours what he wants to pour—and that means obscure wines. Here, he defends weird.
When we first opened the Red Hen, I hedged my bets and put a bunch of Tuscan and Piedmont wines on my mostly Italian list, just to get people comfortable. But I think the climate of the world is changing—or at least the mind-set of the American drinker. I think everybody's tired of drinking the same old thing; people are ready to see that there's different stuff out there. I'm currently pouring two Serbian wines and a Georgian one by the glass, and people are really into them. Plus, I've got a pretty extensive Slovenian selection.
Half the time, I go up to a table where people are reading my wine list, and they say, "We have no idea what we're looking at," which gives me a chance to make it an engaging and educational experience. But my style is more of a "What do you want to drink?" type of thing. I speak to 90 percent of the guests about wine—it's what I care about most, talking to people. And so I intentionally made a pretty esoteric list because it means I'll have a lot more interaction.