We’ve only just begun to sip the virtues of a wine revolution in Pennsylvania: Changing laws in the state-run liquor system have allowed restaurants to become bottle retailers, and markets that once could never sell wine can do so now — and pour it, too.
The creation of Alimentari, the wine bar-restaurant above Di Bruno Bros. on Rittenhouse Square, has every step of those options covered. The added bonus of talented wine pros like Sande Friedman, Di Bruno’s retail wine director, and Michael McCaulley, Alimentari’s service and beverage director who was also a former co-owner of Tria, reminds us what we’ve been missing all along — knowledgeable sommeliers to guide diners to worthy bottles they otherwise might never have discovered roaming the aisles of a state-run store.
The Alimentari list, with a dozen rotating glass choices and 40 bottles, all available for retail downstairs, has no overlap with state stores inventory, and features largely independent producers that range from approachable Scarpetta Sangiovese on draft to Craven’s juicy-funky South African orange wine and obscure grapes that deserve wider notice. One of the best examples is Ellena Giuseppe’s Nascetta, a dry but aromatic Langhe white recently saved from near-extinction in Italy’s Piedmont region. It smells like honey and herbs, with nutty tones on the palate. Most importantly: It’s the perfect match for anything from Alimentari’s mozzarella bar.