The good, the bad and the overpriced on this downtown steakhouse's wine list.
By Danny Brody
If I were to open a steakhouse in Miami (I know what you're saying: "Wow! What a novel idea!"), I'd try to make it seem like it had always been here, wowing the sophisticated locals with giant chunks of red meat cooked black and blue, or however the sophisticated locals are eating big hunks of meat these days. I'd throw in giant martinis and, of course, some hash browns, "creamed fresh spinach" and macaroni and cheese, or, as I like to call it, yuppie crack. And I'd name it something masculine, like Manny's, which even has the word "Man" in it, to emphasize the "Bludgeon of Beef" (actual menu item) you are about to consume. But what about the wine list?
There are two kinds of wine that supposedly accompany steaks: red, and redder. But what if you're starting with the even-manlier-than-steak raw oysters on the half shell? Try the '03 Torre La Moreira Rias Baixas
(REE-ahs BUY-shas), a fresh Albariño from Spain that's just $34, a mere twice retail. It'll taste both dreamy and creamy when paired with the raw little dudes and may even hold up to the Chilean sea bass. But who orders seafood at a steakhouse? If you must go for the lobster or king crab legs, however, splurge on the '03 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
from New Zealand. At just $70, or less than twice retail, this clean white from the hottest Sauvignon Blanc turf on earth will bring out the sweetness as well as the, ahem, meatiness, of any shellfish. For the cheapies who just want some vino with their $86 lobster tail, try the Douglas Green Sav. Blanc
from South Africa. It usually goes for less than $10 retail, and here it's $26. If you're only in it for the alcohol, Dougy is your man.
But onto the reds. There are a few bargains here, and the best of the lot is the Rutz Cellars French Cuvee Pinot Noir
('05), here comically listed as "French Curves." At $35, it has enough backbone to stand up to the filet and the prime rib, and is less than twice retail. For more complex cuts, try the '04 Murphy Goode Cabernet
(a little bit pricey at $50) or the St. Francis "Old Vines" Zinfandel
at $46. Nobody's ever really explained to me why old vines are better than new vines, and if you can taste the difference, then you're one step ahead of me. But they're both substantial wines, retailing for about $18 each, that drink well right out of the bottle.
Manny's Steakhouse, 300 S. Biscayne Blvd; 305-938-3000
Wine list: 101. Graphic: Sam Riepe