Enthusiasm for this summer’s Olympic Games has hit a fever pitch, and New York City’s Armani Ristorante has jumped on the bandwagon. They’re offering patrons an opportunity to taste wines from regions that trace the route from the first modern games to this year’s event. Armani Ristorante staff members studied a map to select wine regions closely associated with these former Olympic host cities, and the result is a list of five by-the-glass or bottle wines available now through Labor Day. For those who can’t make it to the restaurant, these selections offer a starting point for a tasting tour you can take at home.
Athens Olympics 1896 and 2004
Semeli Espera’s 2008 Gewürztraminer from Nemea, Greece ($11/glass, $59/375 ml bottle)
About a two-hour drive from Athens, Nemea is one of Greece’s leading wine regions, producing exciting reds and rosés from the indigenous variety Agiorgitiko. But to represent the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games, the restaurant opted instead to showcase this spicy, aromatic white to celebrate the summer Olympics.
Paris Olympics 1924
Emile Balland’s 2010 Croq’Caillotte Sancerre from Loire Valley, France ($17/glass, $69/bottle)
The Loire Valley is about a two-hour drive south of Paris—and renowned for steely, flinty Sauvignon Blanc-based whites. Croq’Caillotte is named for the limestone pebbles typical in Sancerre’s best vineyards; the label actually shows someone attempting to eat those ubiquitous pebbles. This light-bodied and dry wine displays crisp citrus notes and a big dose of the region’s signature minerality.
Rome Olympics 1960
Damiano Ciolli’s 2008 Cirsium Cesanese di Olevano Romano from Lazio, Italy ($18/glass, $75/bottle)
Staff members at Armani Ristorante point out that if you ever enjoyed a “house red wine” in a cafe in Rome, it was probably made from Cesanese—a grape typically planted in southern and central Italy. This wine hails from the Cesanese di Olevano Romano DOC, about 50 miles southeast of Rome, and features earthy aromas and fine tannins.
Torino Olympics 2006
Elvio Cogno’s 2008 Cascina Nuova Barolo from Piedmont, Italy ($29/glass, $124/bottle)
This bold Barolo hails from its namesake town in Piedmont, south of the city that hosted the games in 2006. By law, Barolo must be 100% Nebbiolo—a late-ripening varietal that’s best grown on south-facing hillsides. The Cascina Nuova is produced using grapes sourced from several vineyards.
London Olympics 2012
Ridgeview’s 2009 Cavendish Brut from Sussex, England ($16/glass, $69/bottle)
Sparkling wine from England? Sussex is only 68 miles from Champagne and shares the same chalky white soil and cool climate as that famous French bubbly region. This medium-bodied wine represents the host city of this year’s summer games, and is made using all three classic Champagne grape varieties, very much like its French counterpart.
Tips of Hosting your own Olympics Viewing Party
Since the decathalon is considered the all-around event of the games, Armani Ristorante suggests serving 10 wines blind, with guests voting for their favorite to determine a winner. Or, feature 10 meze- or tapas-style dishes, and ask guests to bring wines to pair with them. The guest with the most versatile wine wins.