Suzanne Tracht, chef/owner of Jar in Los Angeles, always had wine at the dinner table growing up. When she was starting out as a cook, her apprenticeship at the Arizona Biltmore included an eight-week course in wine. Now, at Jar, she says, "many of my customers send over a taste of their favorite wines, so I get to try different things all the time. I also sit in on wine tastings with our wine director as much as I can."
Except for daytime and pre-Hollywood Bowl, she drinks red wines almost exclusively. Maybe that's not such a surprise, since Tracht is known for her sumptuous pot roast made with boned short ribs and a hefty char siu pork chop. You can get a great steak at Jar, too — not to mention a mean cocktail.
Tracht's favorite red at the moment is a Rhone blend from Villa Creek called Avenger from the 2012 vintage. That's a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre out of Paso Robles.
"I love its taste of blue and black brûléed berries, the notes of violets, curing spices, wet earth, minerals and black tea," says Tracht. "Its velvety mouthfeel and complexity get me every time."
Her match for the Avenger? Coq au vin. She likes the sweet qualities of the wine against the savory flavors — smoky bacon, pearl onions and Crimini mushrooms — of the dish. That would be if you're in a decadent mood. "If I want to keep it real, I'll pair the wine with Jar fries," she says. "Might need a nap after."
Tracht shares her all-time favorite wines, naming the 2007 Neal Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, any vintage of Lewis Cellars Napa Valley Syrah — and a white, Kistler Vineyards' Chardonnay. "Love, love, love!" she says.
The chef is into sparkling wines, too, especially pink bubbles anytime, all the time. Favorites? "Billecart-Salmon rosé for special occasions and crémant for everyday, especially Gérard Bertrand's 2012 Crémant de Limoux Thomas Jefferson Cuvée Brut rosé from the foothills of the French Pyrenees.
So it turns out that she may drink red wines most of the times, but has strong feelings about the occasional white — and rosés and sparkling wines. And that makes perfect sense with her cooking.