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This is an excerpt from Restaurant Wine, issue 112, March/April 2006.

Operation Profile: Hearth

Eclectic, Seasonal Wine Selections, an Unusual Wine List Format, and Daily Staff Wine Training Bring Hearth’s Wine Program to Life

New York, NY—More and more upscale restaurants in this country have seasonal menus, where dishes showcase ingredients that are fresh and/or widely available only at certain times of the year. Such menus change several times a year, sometimes month to month, even day to day.

But surprisingly few of these restaurants feature wine lists that change appreciably when their menus do. Of course, the wine lists in most upscale establishments are, by definition, works-in-progress, since items sell out and need replacing, and/or new wines are added on a regular basis. Even so, “seasonal revisions” rarely involve changing more than a third of the wines featured (except in areas that truly have well-defined high- and low-traffic seasons), usually less, and don’t perceptibly change the stylistic center of gravity of the wine program.

Which makes the wine program at Hearth noteworthy. Here, co-owner Paul Grieco and beverage manager Hailey Rose orchestrate a 250 item list that undergoes a major metamorphosis four times a year. Grieco says that roughly three-quarters of the wines change from quarter to quarter, and that the general styles of the featured wines, like dishes on the menu, shift from lighter in spring and summer to fuller in fall and winter. This focus on seasonality provides both a structure for Hearth’s wine program and a major point of differentiation for it in the intensely competitive New York market.

This is an excerpt from Restaurant Wine, issue 112, March/April 2006. Subscriptions start at $99 per year in the U.S. Visit our subscription page to place your order today. Also, browse our complete back issue collection by topic to buy individual back issues ($24 each / $27 outside USA) for particular inspiration.

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