Wine

TT Style File: Thomas Carter

Sommelier essentials from Estela's wine director
Seven somm essentials, by the numbers
Thomas Carter of Estela in New York

We knew we liked Thomas Carter, the dapper wine director and partner at NYC's Estela, even before we sampled wines from his eclectic list. First there's his uniform, a utilitarian cotton twill jacket.

Then there's his low-key cool approach. Carter, who's also poured at Le Bernardin and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, filled us in on what every would-be cool wine guy or gal should be wearing, drinking and using right now.

1. The Red. "The 2010 Domaine du Mortier Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Cuvée Dionysos--a Cab Franc--is earthy, with an almost mushroom-y quality to it. You even get a little bit of a wet leaves thing going on. It pairs well with the lamb ribs on our menu, or with a country pâté."

2. The Uniform. "I had a longer version of this cotton twill jacket for cellar work at Blue Hill at Stone Barns; the coats are traditionally designed to protect your suit. But Andrew Tarlow's wife, the designer Kate Huling, made this one. It's got a pocket for everything: my wine key, my notebook..."

3. The Stems. "I think about wine like music. Speakers can color music, and so can glasses. Zalto wine glasses are just so correct. They highlight everything that's good or bad in a wine."

Zalto wine glass | Wine opener | Moleskine notebook
4. The Easy Opener. "The pocket Rabbit: Never leave home without it. It's like six bucks. I've used more expensive wine openers before--I won't name names--and the worm, that little part that goes into the cork, inevitably breaks."

5. The Memory Jogger. "I've developed a weird thing for consistency, so I like that you can get Moleskine notebooks anywhere. Plus, the notebook fits into any pocket. I use it to jot down if a customer has a comment or recommends a wine."

6. The White. "The 2011 Enkircher Ellergrub Spätlese Riesling is a high-acid white that's super versatile. You could drink it with anything from scallop crudo to a plate of Russ & Daughters smoked fish salads. Or, you know, some roe and stuff."

7. The Soundtrack. "The biggest mistake people make when choosing a wine is not assessing their moods. Music is like that, too. I have more than 2,000 albums, mostly '50s and '60s hard-bop jazz, and rock from the '60s onward. These three, Fleetwood Mac's pre-Stevie English Rose, composer Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa and jazz musician Eric Dolphy's The Quest, are for such different moods."

Estela 47 E Houston St. New York NY 10012 212-219-7693

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