Sommelier Laura Maniec coined the name Corkbuzz when she was 26 years old, but she didn't open her first business with the name until turning 30. The premiere location opened in 2011 in New York City's Union Square.
Three years later she unveiled a second location in NYC's Chelsea Market and, currently, she's wrapping up a new operation in the Queen City, where she has family. The restaurant/wine bar, situated in Sharon Square, has a chic feel and a menu offering appetizers, entrees and plenty of wine — around 200 wines by the bottle and 40 by the glass are available.
But there's more to Corkbuzz than food and wine. It also features a range of classes to enhance patrons' knowledge of wine, to facilitate conversations and to provide a social gathering.
Maniec grew up in an Italian family where wine was often served at dinner functions. "Wine was a gateway for a lot of my passions for culture, history, geography, language and food," Maniec says.
Creative Loafing: Tell me about the wine classes. What kinds will you be offering?
Laura Maniec: We do about 15 classes a month in New York, so we're planning the same for Charlotte. Our classes are going to be held in a private dining room. It's up to 18 people, but it just depends on how many people register, so some classes might be smaller. The classes are taught mostly by me, but also by our general manager who is a really unbelievable sommelier. They are about an hour-and-a-half long and usually guests can expect to taste anywhere from 6-8 wines.
Classes range from beginners to advanced and masters. There's also classes geared towards professionals. Maybe you want to fine-tune your knowledge of Spain, so you can take a Spanish master class. There are also more social classes that are just for fun. You don't need to know anything about wine, just come with an open mind. You can try some amazing wines and discuss how they would go well with a pizza that has sausage topping versus brussel sprouts.
Was there any defining moment for your love of champagne?
I lived with a family in France [outside of Épernay, Champagne] for a couple months and worked harvest and made the wine, 2010 vintage. That was definitely the turning point for me. I loved champagne already, but then I lived with the French family where I spoke French, picked grapes, made wine and made friends there during harvest.
What are some of your favorite dishes and pairings?
I love the North Carolina Trout. It's really delicious with smoked potato and it has dill [hollandaise]. It's really good with Rioja from Spain. Believe it or not, it's fish with red wine, but it's so good.
I also really like the Bourguignon Burger. It has red wine fondue and bacon and mushroom marmalade and it's served with pommes frites. It's really good with Syrah/Shiraz from Australia or the Northern Rhône [in France].