Wine merchant Robert Mielżyński talks to the Insider about the complexities of matching wine not just to food, but the person…
By Alex Webber | Photographs by Kevin Demaria
I could natter all day about food which, given that a substantial part of my job involves doing just that, isn’t a bad thing. But ask me a question on wine and you might as well be asking a tortoise. If there’s one moment I dread when eating out, it comes with the presentation of the wine list – even worse, dinner at home and being put in charge of the wine. Times like that I hit the local Piotr & Paweł, chuck something moderately pricy into the basket and hope for the best: pay and pray.
As it turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong. That much I gather talking to Robert Mielżyński, a man many regard as Warsaw’s top wine broker. “Buy wine in a hypermarket and you’re just guessing,” he warns, “a specialty shop on the other hand will be able to give you a proper, personal consultancy. In our case, my boys will ask you clearly what your budget is, and if it happens to be just zł. 40 that’s fine, they’ll try and work with that. We don’t get it right 100% of the time, but we’re definitely not far off – at the end of the day, if you have a memorable dinner, and our wine plays its part, you’ll come back to us. It’s in our interests to find the wine that fits your night.”
So go on, what does that mean with Thanksgiving coming up. “You’ll be having white meat, maybe some kind of pie,” he muses “so white is usually the answer, but a red could also work, nothing too heavy of course, so a nice Pinot Noir. For the white, definitely think about a barrel fermented Chardonnay, or something slightly heavier like a Sauvignon. A New Zealand would fit well, it’s quite tropical with hints of mango so that’s a good match.”
Budget is key throughout. “Sure,” he says, “if you’re
having wild boar then a nice Barolo or a big Burgundy would be good, but sometimes you just don’t have the money for that, especially if you’re cooking for a group.” In such a situation, forget about the others and instead think of yourself. “Marketing people might tell you otherwise,” says Mielżyński, “but if you’re cooking at home for people then you need to get a wine you like, not a wine you think others will enjoy. Why? Because sometimes other people just don’t know what they like. And remember, very large groups aren’t bothered about expensive wine, they just want a nice easy drinking wine. Anything more is a waste.”
ul. Burakowska 5/7 & ul. Czerska 12, mielzynski.pl