She's one of the youngest Master Sommeliers in the world (the highest wine accreditation in the world), not to mention one of a small pool that are women, and instead of running the wine program at, frankly, some snooty uptown establishment, Laura Maniec opened Corkbuzz. Corkbuzz is a wine bar-meets-studio in New York City, where the focus is on drinking and learning about great and unique wines from around the world. Which is exactly why we love it, and totally admire the woman behind it.
Our sixth Tastemaker, Maniec has led us to many a fantastic wine discovery at Corkbuzz. When we can't hop over to Alsace for the weekend or road trip through Sonoma during harvest, Maniec swiftly shuttles our palates to the destinations with glass after glass. Wines from both established and new world regions are showcased at Corkbuzz, which (bonus) doesn't necessarily translate to sky-high prices. She may be a born-and-bred New Yorker, but Maniec travels constantly to discover wines (and for the food), and brings that global inspiration to us, via Corkbuzz.
Tell us a bit about how Corkbuzz came about.
I started thinking about corkbuzz in May of 2010. I wanted to create a place where wine could be enjoyed and explored, a place that felt like an extension of your living room. At first I wanted to create a wine school and supper club but after working on the business plan with my Uncle Frank (now business partner) I realized that I also wanted a restaurant and wine bar. We opened in November of 2011.
What are your favorite wine regions to visit? Any highlights you can recommend?
I love visiting wine regions. One of my favorite places is Champagne. I love the countryside and the French culture and food, but I also visiting California, Italy, Spain, and pretty much any region where the people are passionate about their wines.
What advice would you give someone going on their first wine trip?
Visit a few wineries but don't try to take on too much. I would recommend a maximum of 2-3 visits per day so you don't feel rushed. Learn a little about the grapes and regions in advance so you can ask questions and better understand the styles. It's always fun to buy some bottles prior to visiting and have a dinner party with friends so you have some knowledge.
Where are your favorite places to drink wine in NYC?
What's the first thing you do when you get somewhere new?
I try to find out all the places that the locals go. I make friends with storekeepers and restaurant owners and ask where they like to eat, drink, and shop.
What's the best meal you've ever had on the road?
While in Greece, I had some of my favorite meals. The food is so flavorful and healthy. Most meals consist of fresh fish, simply prepared with olive oil and herbs, and a tomato salad.
Any trips coming up that you're particularly excited about?
I was invited to judge a wine competition on Turkey. I am looking forward to visiting and tasting the wines from there and will likely take a trip to Israel too so I can check out the wineries. I might be going to Australia too this year. I can't wait.
What is one thing you never travel without?
Comfortable shoes and my Nikon camera.
Photo credits: Laura Maniec courtesy of Brooke Ismach; Santorini at sunset courtesy of Jon Jackson