Celebrity Wine Roundtable

What happens when an actress, a rock star, a Broadway producer and a star tattoo artist convene for a blind tasting of wines as distinctive and eclectic as they are?

Winemaking, with its marriage of science and art, is not unlike other creative disciplines such as music, the visual arts and dance and performance: equal parts alchemy and creative vision, it requires a balance of practical application and boundary-breaking experimentation to reach its best heights. With this in mind, Wine Enthusiast invited four acclaimed artists celebrated for equal parts craft and creation to taste wine together, talk about their own vinous journey and experience a flight of wines as unique and expressive as themselves.

Each person represents excellence in a particular creative field. Actress Samantha Mathis’s film and television work spans several decades and is distinguished by passion and sincere character empathy. Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino, inspired by diverse influences like ’60s R&B, hip-hop and ’70s punk, has helped catapult the band to worldwide stardom. Classically trained in visual art but always progressive, celebrity tattoo artist Friday Jones has inked some of Hollywood’s most famous icons. And Broadway producer and choreographer Dan Knechtges has spanned varied theater spheres and genres with ease, embracing everything from Gilbert and Sullivan and Sondheim to Xanadu.

Hosted by Joe Campanale, beverage director and co-owner of Anfora, dell’anima and L’Artusi restaurants in Manhattan, the group drew upon the insight that world travel, a love of wine and food, and an adventurous spirit yields.

What they tasted

Domaine Sigalas 2010 Assyrtiko (Santorini): “The crispness and balance of this wine is exactly what I like. I can imagine pairing this with a lot of different dishes.” —S.F.

Ken Forrester 2009 FMC Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch): “There’s so much complexity here, but it’s not overpowering. They’ve done a good job of keeping everything in the right place.” —S.M.

Château d’Esclans 2011 Whispering Angel Rosé (Côtes de Provence): “This wine immediately makes me think of being on a boat on a beautiful day; it’s lighthearted and refreshing.” —F.J.

Vodopivec 2006 Amphora Vitoska (Venezia Giulia): ”Such an unusual wine, and a beautiful and pure expression of the Carso region of Friuli.” —J.C.

Bodega Chacra 2010 Barda Pinot Noir (Patagonia): “This is so delicious and elegant…it’s the kind of wine you could drink all night.” —D.K.

Chateau Musar 2004 Red (Bekaa Valley): ”An integrated red blend from a wine region unknown to many people. I love surprising friends with this one.” —S.K.

Sam Fogarino, Drummer for Interpol

Athens, Georgia-based Fogarino is the drummer for the alternative rock band Interpol and has toured extensively with them since 2000. Prior to joining Interpol, he performed with various other notable rock acts for a decade. In 2007, Fogarino formed the band Magnetic Morning with former Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin.

W.E.: How did you get into wine?
SF: Being that I have an Italian background, wine has always been around. The first time I was really told what wine was, aside from it being the blood of Christ, was from my grandmother, who made her own wine moonshine. Also, my girlfriend—now wife—was drinking a lot of wine when we met about 10 years ago. She introduced me to people like Mario Batali, then along the way I met Joe [Campanale] years later, and our mutual friend Mike Diamond [from the Beastie Boys], who is an avid wine enthusiast.

W.E.: Have you been exposed to great wine via your touring and work?
SF: Yes. It’s amazing when you open your eyes to it—it’s right there. I was trying a local white wine in Lubiana in Eastern Europe and I could have just downed the whole bottle, it was so succulent and delicious. It’s really cool when you go to these little nooks and crannies that are not really on the world map and then you try their wines. I also learned by listening to people who really knew wine.

W.E.: Do you have a favorite wine-and-food pairing?
SF: I gravitate more towards white as a goto. I’ll cook a simple pasta pomodoro (get Fogarino’s Tomato Basil sauce recipe below) and find a really dry white that’s not too citrusy, so it does not compete with the acidity of the tomato sauce, and that’s fine. That works really well. But it doesn’t need to be overthought. Understanding basic guidelines is the main thing. We’re not all going to be sommeliers.

W.E.: Do you consider winemaking an art?
SF: Oh, definitely. It goes back to the Old World idea, which I learned from my Sicilian grandmother…you use your tongue, your soul, your eyes and your ears. It becomes a very artful approach to making great wine. There is a science and alchemy of sorts to it.

Fogarino’s favorite wine of the tasting: Domaine Sigalas 2010 Assyrtiko (Santorini); W.E. recommends Fogarino try: As Laxas 2011 Albariño (Rías Baixas).

Friday Jones, Celebrity Tattoo Artist

Jones, an acclaimed New York City-based tattoo artist, has worked on such stars as Angelina Jolie, Robbie Williams, Kid Rock and Penélope Cruz. She apprenticed at the renowned Inksmith & Rogers studios in Florida while simultaneously pursuing a Bachelor of Science in philosophy and art at Jacksonville University.

W.E.: How did you first get into wine?
FJ: My father was a fighter pilot, and we managed to get stationed in the Central Valley of California when I was young. The whole area from the Central Coast north is fraught with vineyards. That was one of the best things about being remotely stationed—the exposure to the wine culture.

W.E.: How has your work exposed you to great wine?
FJ: My client base is pretty cultured and sophisticated. I was with [actress] Angie Harmon in Beverly Hills last month, and we polished off a couple bottles of really great Pinot Noir. We were discussing politics, and by the end, she convinced me she should be president.

W.E.: What are your favorite wine regions to visit?
FJ: The south of France is one of my favorite places to go, and my ultimate dream is to have a studio in Monaco. All through the region, and Burgundy coming down, is just fascinating. Tuscany, too, is one of my favorite areas for wine.

W.E.: Are you usually in these regions for work?
FJ: Yes, and then that usually segues into a client saying, “Hey, I have a Tuscan villa,” and then we celebrate after the tattoo is done and sometimes headaches follow. But the whole time, we drink wonderful wine.

W.E.: Do you have a favorite wine-and-food pairing? What wines are you drinking now?
FJ: I’m trying to bring back the rosés. There’s something in me…call it my inner porn star… that loves a good pink rosé. It has only been recent. I was snobby about rosé for the last 20 years. (Get Jones’s rosé and salmon recipe below.)

W.E.: Do you consider winemaking an art?
FJ: Absolutely. My old mentor, Spider Web, who is still a tattoo guy in New York, always said that “gastronomy and oenology are the highest arts.” It’s ephemeral, you know—it’s satisfying and then it’s gone. It’s the beauty of the human condition that we can experience a moment like that.

Jones’s favorite wine of the tasting: Château d’Esclans 2011 Whispering Angel Rosé (Côtes de Provence); W.E. recommends Jones try: Muri-Gries 2011 Lagrein Kretzer Rosé (Alto Adige).

Samantha Mathis, Actress

Mathis made her film debut in Pump Up the Volume (1990) and has co-starred in the films Little Women (1994), The American President (1995), Broken Arrow (1996) and American Psycho (2000). Mathis’s latest film, Lebanon, PA (2010), had its world premiere at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival. She has also appeared in the Off-Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Mathis lives in Manhattan.

W.E.: How were you introduced to wine?
SM: My first job was a pilot for a TV series, and we shot it in the Barossa Valley in Australia. So, while I was 16 years old at the time, we were taken to some vineyards and did some wine tasting, so I did get a taste of some really exceptional wine at a young age. But as an adult, my uncle [Andy Besch] owns a wine store in New York on the Upper West Side called West Side Wine, and he has a book called The Wine Guy (William Morrow Cookbooks, 2005), and I think he really opened up the world of wine to me. He demystified it for me.

W.E.: What wine regions do you like to visit?
SM: I’m a California girl, so I have to admit that I love Northern California. I’ve been to Napa several times, and I am particularly partial to Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley.

W.E.: Do you have a favorite wine-and-food pairing? What wines are you drinking now?
SM: As far as food, classic roast chicken and potatoes is one of my faves to make and a good dish I have in my back pocket. In terms of a wine pairing, it would probably be a Pinot Noir, as it goes nicely with the chicken. As for what wines I am drinking now, I like them all! Depends on what [I’m] eating, I suppose.

W.E.: Do you consider winemaking an art?
SM: Is it art or science…one could say it’s both. There’s a great passion behind the making of a good wine. I suppose anyone can take something scientific and try to replicate it, but it’s the passion that makes it unique.

Mathis’s favorite wine of the tasting: Ken Forrester 2009 FMC Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch); W.E. recommends Mathis try: Domaine des Baumard 2008 Clos du Papillon (Savennières).

Dan Knechtges, Choreographer and Producer

Knechtges, who lives in New York City, is a director and choreographer for Broadway musicals, opera, television, film and music videos. He received a Tony nomination for Xanadu and directed the music video for Fatboy Slim’s “It’s a Wonderful Night.” He recently directed the Broadway musical Lysistrata Jones.

W.E.: How did you learn about wine?
DK: I actually had a choreography gig in wine country in California. I came from the Midwest from a working-class family, and we didn’t have wine that didn’t come in a box. But in California, I tasted some really great wines and was immediately smitten. Then I started tasting as much as I could and subscribing to wine and food magazines, and that’s how it got started. By reading and talking about wine a lot, you start collecting these friends who then lead you on these wine hunts and then you meet wine-bar owners who pull you into their sphere.

W.E.: How has your work exposed you to wine?
DK: I work mainly in the theater district, and there are several great wine bars there. I know all of the owners now because I go in frequently for business meetings after shows. A lot of times, wine bars are the ones open with some sort of elevated menu and wine list so you can really have a nice meal. That’s how it dovetails with what I do in my directing and choreographing roles. I am able to entertain, and the purpose of wine and what I do is to entertain.

W.E.: Do you have a favorite wine-and-food pairing?
DK: My favorite red wine of all time is Amarone. I took a trip to Italy a couple of years ago and spent six weeks traveling around northern Italy. The first time I tasted this wine I was like, wow, I have waited my whole life for this. To this day, it’s my favorite pairing with any hearty pasta.\

W.E.: Do you consider winemaking an art form?
DK: Of course. There are so many variants to it, and it’s so unique to the person doing it. To me, that is the hallmark of great art, that it’s a personal expression. The human experience rendered comprehensible through your personal stamp. Winemaking falls directly into that same realm.

Knechtges’s favorite wine of the tasting: Bodega Chacra 2010 Barda Pinot Noir (Patagonia); W.E. recommends Knechtges try: Couloir 2010 Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir (Mendocino).


Joe, The Host:

“My goal was to have fun with the tasting and choose wines that played to the worldliness of the group, but to teach them a thing or two at the same time. At Anfora, we use wine education as a tool that can be applied to appropriate situations. If someone truly wants to learn more, I make sure we have the tools and training to provide that expertise.”

Tomato Sauce with Basil

Courtesy Sam Fogarino, Drummer for Interpol

"This is a very simple, traditional tomato sauce—just basil; no garlic, onions, oregano, none of that," says Fogarino. "And it calls for plum tomatoes, which are small, so if the tomatoes you get are larger than plum size, you might want fewer of them, or adjust your other ingredients accordingly. I’m a believer in the 'old world grandma method'—eyes & tongue, these are the finest tools of measurement."

24 tomatoes, preferably plum, heirloom or vine-ripened
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 bunches basil leaves (approximately 4 cups, loose), divided
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Sea salt (fine) and black pepper, to taste.
1 pound pasta

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Roughly chop half of the basil, retaining the rest as whole leaves. Rinse and dry tomatoes, then cut each in half from top to bottom, removing pit.  Liberally grease a large rimmed baking sheet with a few tablespoons of the olive oil, and place the halved tomatoes in a single layer, skin side up. Place the sheet on center rack of the oven and let roast for up to 4 hours, checking frequently to make sure they do not overcook and shrivel. (Alternative superfast “ristorante” method: Preheat broiler. Prepare tomatoes as before and place under broiler for 10 to 15 minutes, rotating cookie sheet to avoid uneven browning of tomato skins.) When the skins have wrinkled, turning a slight reddish-brown, they are done.

Using tongs, remove the skins. They should come off with ease. If a portion of the skin is not sliding off but rather ripping apart from the rest, place tomatoes back in broiler or oven for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until skin is easily removed from fruit.

Pour tomatoes and drippings from baking sheet into a deep, large frying pan on low heat. With a knife, fork or utensil of choice, break down the halved tomatoes. (Alternatives: prior to placing in frying pan, chop by hand or macerate roasted tomatoes in a blender or food processor.) Stir in tomato paste, sea salt, pepper, and whole basil leaves. Add remaining olive oil—drizzle in a bit at a time and taste until olive oil is a subtle “undertaste” to the pure tomato flavor. Continue to reduce over low heat for roughly 10–15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Remove as many whole basil leaves as possible, and quickly stir in chopped basil.

Boil pasta until al dente, place in bowls and ladle sauce. Serves 4–6.

Fifty Shades of Pink

Courtesy Friday Jones, Celebrity Tattoo Artist

"When I think of Whispering Angel in September, I'm envisioning 'The Great Last Beach Cookout of the Season.' At sunset. rosy hues streak across the sky and an intimate dinner celebrates the changes of Fall," say Jones. "En papillote is an easy, yet elegant way to prepare all sorts of food. The steam cooks the contents of the handmade pouch in a swirling dance of steam, pressure and flavor. This salmon recipe romances La Angel, with so many fruits and spices together tingling the tender flesh of fish and vegetable."

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 cups red cabbage, sliced
1½ cup fennel, sliced
¼ cup dried cranberries, sliced
One 16-ounce salmon steak, halved
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the ginger, soy sauce, pomegranate juice, sesame oil, honey, lime juice and cayenne pepper in a food processor and process until incorporated. Set sauce aside.

Heat an oiled iron skillet to medium. Prepare two sheets of tin foil, about 20 inches each. On one-half of one sheet, layer half of the sliced cabbage, fennel and cranberries. Drizzle 1/4 of the sauce on vegetables and place the halved salmon on top, drizzling another 1/4 of the sauce over the fish, along with salt and pepper. Fold the other half of the foil over the fish and crimp to seal the foil edges, creating a pouch. Place pouch on hot skillet until it begins to puff; continue cooking for 4 minutes, remove pouch from skillet and let stand for 1 minute. Repeat with remaining steak and vegetables. When ready to serve, slice pouch open with a knife and slide contents onto a plate or enjoy cowboy-style, right from the pouch. Makes 2 servings.

Watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the tasting >>>>

Used on Video landing page.

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