Wines for Marcus Samuelsson’s New American Cuisine

At Marcus Samuelsson’s iconic Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster, culinary director Joel Harrington executes New American Cuisine, defined as flavors representative of the vast mosaic of cultures and ethnicities that constitute the fabric of America. For Samuelsson, these foods are also a highly personal expression of the ethnic and cultural influences in his own life.

Born in Ethiopia, Samuelsson lost his parents to tuberculosis and subsequently was adopted by a couple in Sweden, where he discovered his passion for cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen. His early career took him on jaunts throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas to study and work, until he became one of the most celebrated chefs of his generation. Samuelsson has earned three stars in The New York Times as the chef at Aquavit; won Top Chef Masters in Season Two; prepared the meal for the first State Dinner of the Obama administration; and published the memoir Yes, Chef!

When it came to designing a wine list that would straddle gravlax and jerk chicken, oysters Rockefeller and blackened catfish, his first priority was seeking out accessible wines that go well with a wide variety of foods. Toward this end, the Red Rooster list features an impressive array of pinot noirs in styles spanning from overtly fruity to delicate and textured. A current favorite among guests and staff members is the OPP (Other People’s Pinot) from Mouton Noir, the Dundee, Oregon winery owned by the sommelier André Hueston.

In terms of bolder reds, the Ridge, petite sirah is the go-to recommendation for the steak-for-two and Caribbean pork chop. Recently, more South African wines, such as the Raats, Western Cape, cabernet franc, are making their way onto the list in honor of the memory of Nelson Mandela.