Although the menu itself is designed to place emphasis on wine first, the process of selecting wines to pair with Le’s food comes last. Le begins with seasonality, what’s growing locally and can be acquired sustainably. “We’ll create dishes around what’s peak season,” Le says. But, for Snee, buying wines for the season really isn’t as up-in-the-air as one might originally suppose.
“The same key ingredients pop up at the same time every year,” Le says. “Everyone knows when it’s heirloom tomato season. Everybody knows the best time to get peaches or plums. The ingredients manifest themselves in a very formulaic way. It’s a pattern. Every spring, you get those beautiful peas, sugar snaps, and white asparagus. Then it goes into the summer, and we know we’re going to get tomatoes, melons, peaches, and plums, and soft shell crabs from May to September.”
Snee knows Le’s food well-enough at this point in their working relationship to plan ahead. Her wine-buying process takes a multi-pronged approach. Some wines are acquired from downstairs at The Wine House, but most are acquired through other means like from distributors coming directly to the restaurant and Snee going out into the world and tasting.
Even though Snee knows seasonally the wines she’s tasting might not fit right now, they will fit down the road, and, when she finds something she knows would go perfectly with Le’s food—even if it isn’t available for six months—she’ll buy it up to have it in her back pocket for when the season comes.