Our survey of Baltimore’s best restaurants this year reminded us that not every hot spot in town has a license to sell adult beverages—so you bring your own. Such places offer you the opportunity to pair delightful and unique wines while avoiding too big a hit to your bill. If you are headed to a BYO place, take advantage of it by treating yourself to something nice that’s also going to pair well with your food.
Wittmann “100 Hills” Riesling 2017
($20, Country Vintner)
There may be no more versatile white wine on the planet than a delicious, mostly dry German Riesling. It possesses great acidity for cutting through fat, lovely aromatics to lift herbal and savory flavors, and is never weighed down by oak and tannins that could swamp delicate preparations. Wittmann hails from Germany’s Rheinhessen region and does a fine job of pairing with Thai and Korean, of course, but also ceviche, grilled poultry, and even red meat.
Monteagrelo Bressia Cabernet Franc 2016
Argentina is most immediately associated with Malbec, but Cabernet Franc does astonishingly well there, too. They tend to be more fruit-forward, less heavy, and more versatile. Just the ticket for a trip to a place like Puerto 511, which features Peruvian fare that is seafood-oriented but also always includes a hefty shot of red meat. This example is lush and packed with fruit without being too heavy or tannic.
Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico 2015
($30, Bacchus Importers)
On one visit to a Baltimore BYO Tuscan restaurant, we noted that one table decided a 1.5 liter of white zinfandel was just the ticket to go with the chef’s painstakingly prepared Italian feast. To each his own, but we saw room for improvement. Next time consider a red from Tuscany’s most famous region, Chianti Classico. This iteration from stalwart producer Felsina is textbook—beautifully tart red cherry, fine tannins, sweet tomato, and sun-baked terracotta scents. From pizza to steak, it’s a winner.