We’re teaming up with Starz to celebrate the May 6 premiere of the original series Sweetbitter, based on the bestselling novel. The series follows Tess who begins working at NYC’s top restaurant, and is intoxicated by the restaurant’s workers, nightlife, and fast paced lifestyle. Author, show creator and restaurant industry veteran Stephanie Danler sat down to talk creative process and of course, wine.
1) What's your first wine experience or best wine memory?
My first real experience with wine was during family meal at a restaurant, blind tasting a red. When I sipped it, I saw visions: horses and leather saddles, mosses in the forest, red, unripe berries, it was so powerful. It was a Remelluri Rioja (still one of my favorite wines), and I remember sneaking up to the bottle afterwards and writing the name down on a piece of paper. That’s how it starts: you identify what you like.
2) What's your favorite varietal and why?
Chenin blanc! I hate to play favorites, but I’m drawn to how exquisite and expressive it is of its terroir – you can have a Savennieres that’s bone dry and almost crackling, and then a Vouvray that’s ripe and rich. Chardonnay from Burgundy is like that as well - I crave the weight and acidity.
3) What inspired you to write Sweetbitter?
A lifetime in the service industry, a decade in New York City, and a fascination with that time in your twenties where you’re waiting for your real life to begin, not realizing that it already has.
4) Favorite food to pair with wine?
Oysters with Chablis. Sometimes I’ll substitute a Muscadet, but I’m almost always wanting the razor sharpness of Chablis.
5) If you could have a glass of wine with anybody, who would it be and why?
MFK Fisher. She’s a national treasure for her culinary writing. We’d have white wine (sensing a trend?) or a dry sherry while also sipping chilled soup or something equally elegant.
6) What are you most excited for book readers to see in the television series?
Our cast is so dynamic. I think the characters in the book are rich, but once you three-dimensionalize them they absolutely glow. As I would go through tapes I would ask myself: Do I believe they work in a restaurant? The answer was yes across the board, and the fact that most of them have worked in the industry just made it more authentic.
Check out the official Sweetbitter trailer and watch Sunday, May 6th on STARZ.