Summer Food & Wine Recommendations with Acqualina’s Food & Beverage Director Sybrandt Windell
The white sands of Sunny Isles Beach, the gentle breeze sending ripples across the Atlantic, and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in your hand – summer may be the best time to discover the preferred bottles and hidden gems of Acqualina’s world-class wine program. Not to mention, nine seasonal pairings curated by new Director of Food & Beverage Sybrandt Windell.
Just steps from the shoreline, Costa Grill at Acqualina is your haven for light Rosés and crisp Sauvignon Blancs (along with the occasional Pinot Noir), perfect for sipping at your umbrella-shaded table, by the pool or on the beach. Indoors, the wine list at AQ by Acqualina and Il Mulino New York reflects more robust Super Tuscans, Cabernets, and Amarone, often leaning toward those sourced from Italy to pair with the Mediterranean cuisine.
“At Costa Grill,” says Windell, “our wine selection is a little bit more approachable. Whether you have a discerning palate or whether you are just an everyday wine-by-the-glass drinker, you will find something for everyone. At Il Mulino or at AQ, our wine and spirit selection is more elaborate.”
At Acqualina’s fine dining restaurants, the list is stippled with distinguished bottles like the 2004 Dom Pérignon, Joseph Phelps Insignia, 2002 Chateau Latour Paulliac, and 2006 Chateau Margaux, along with a strong selection from the Gaja and Antinori families and wonderful Tuscan blends such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia.
With an extensive background in food and wine – he most recently oversaw the culinary program at the five-star, five-diamond Wheatleigh hotel in New England – Windell possesses a wealth of wine knowledge. “Wine is very important to me,” he admits. “I have been drinking, studying, learning – and drinking is part of learning, of course – for many years.”
His vision for the Acqualina wine program starts with the list and extends well beyond it. (At the Wheatleigh, he hosted many tasting dinners and events ranging from big, walk-around tastings to small new vintage tastings to a comparative tasting of single malt and blended whiskey.) He plans on adding new bottles to the menu and changing the selection on a more regular basis, perhaps seasonally, to provide returning guests and longer-stay residents with fascinating new wines.
The key to curating a memorable list is to appeal to both the oenophile and the everyday wine drinker. “There will be featured areas which people know,” he says of his future choices, “like Sancerre, Chablis, Napa Valley, and Sonoma, with a flair of some lesser known areas and regions such as Austria, South Africa, and Argentina.”
Along with hard-to-find wines from his home country of South Africa, Windell is drawn to Sauvignon Blancs from Sancerre, Klein Constantia and Marlborough. (“Where Sancerre is much more rounded and slightly more subtle, the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is going to be very crisp and clean, lots of tropical flavors and fruits. And Klein Constantia is a homegrown favorite.”) And when it comes to Rosé, he opts for more savory wines in addition to those that are light and cheerful. (“100% Pinot Noir Rosés such as the Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé or 100% Merlot Rosés such as the Karen from Eisen & Viljoen can really make it very interesting for the discerning client by the pool who wants to have something other than a fruit-forward Rosé.”)
“The future of the Acqualina wine program,” he says, “is an unwritten book. We will have wines that speak to both the wine novice and connoisseur with a few hidden gems to delight and surprise.”
As for what will best complement your cuisine at Acqualina this summer, Windell has a few suggestions:
Costa Grill Pairings
Chilled Lobster and Dom Pérignon, Brut, France
There is no better way to enjoy your meal at Costa than having our chilled lobster with a glass of Dom Pérignon.
Mojito Ceviche and Riesling, Trimbach, Alsace, France, 2013
The Trimbach Riesling and our mojito ceviche were made for each other. The Trimbach Riesling is dry, clean, and crisp with hints of sweetness in granny smith apples.
Hawaiian Tuna Poke and Sancerre, Pascal Jolivet, Loire Valley, France, 2015
Enjoy the Hawaiian tuna poke with our Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir. It is well-balanced, medium-bodied, slightly savory, and will stand up marvelously to the beautiful cut of Hawaiian tuna.
Branzino and Sauvignon Blanc, Joseph Phelps, Napa Valley, California, 2014
The hidden gem that is Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc is made in small quantities at the highest level. This wine is in perfect harmony with acidity, citrus, slight hint of white peach and tropical fruit notes, shy on the nose, though beautifully expressive on the palate. Enjoy this with our fresh catch branzino with almonds and orange.
Filet Mignon Currasco and Merlot, Stags Leap Winery, Napa Valley, California, 2009
For the meat lover, we offer filet mignon churrasco, which tastes even better than it sounds when washed down with the bountiful, full-bodied Merlot from Stags Leap Winery.
Windell also recommends a bottle of Krug champagne paired with one of Acqualina’s ubiquitous red lounge chairs on the oceanfront…