Yes, Wine and Bouncy Castles Go Together

In Jamie Bissonnette's mind, at least. Meet the outrageously talented chef of the East in the latest edition of Water for Chefs.

December 16, 2016 ● 3 min read

Chef Bissonnette (Toro, Coppa, Little Donkey) is a regular ‘round these parts, but every time we talk to him we learn something new. Like what he would do with a bouncy castle. What it took to get him to dig Vin Jaune. Or, what pairs well with percebes.

1. Would you call yourself a wine drinker?

Absolutely I am. I really enjoy wine, both paired with food and on its own.    

2. Paint the whole picture of your bangin'-est wine experience REAL or IMAGINED.

I would love to have a night with my friends. Somewhere where we can drink white Burgundy while eating caviar, raw fish, potato chips, sea urchin, cheese, saucisson sec, laab, and Icelandic hot dogs. But I want it to be a dope bar – like a brasserie, somewhat dark – with karaoke and maybe a bouncy castle outside. And a soft serve ice cream machine (swirl) and some cognac to cap off the night. I think this is a fantasy, but we have come close to making it all happen in one night…

3. Bubbles or Burgundy?

Bubbles all day long. Bubbles drink well with everything, from raw fish to steak and eggs. I’m a huge fan of sparkling wine from everywhere.  

4. Have you experienced a wine pairing that you felt truly elevated your food? That made it better in a way it wouldn't have been without the wine?

I never really understood drinking Vin Jaune. I'd cooked with it for years, but to sit and have a glass – it wasn't my jam. On my first trip to France – I was in my early 20s – I had Vin Jaune with Coq au Vin Jaune, and it blew me away. That was the first time I really understood that food could change the wine I was drinking. 

Since then, I’ve had some [other] dope pairings. Raúl Perez “Sketch” while eating grilled percebes at Etxebarri was another example. My favorite go-to wine pairings are aged Riesling and Thai food; nothing new to most wine fans, but still such a classic. Andy Ricker showed me this one – we were eating red curry duck and drinking some rad Riesling from the 1970s at Lotus of Siam in Vegas. I had too many glasses and forgot the bottles we had. I so wish I took photos.

5. What makes you like a wine?

I like different wines for different reasons and different occasions. I usually like wines that aren't typical; a wine that keeps me tasting, thinking about what I like about it… that's something I look forward to.    

6. What makes you not like a wine?

I tend to shy away from wines that are flat or overly sweet without complexity. But I’m also not a snob. If I open a wine at home and I don't love it, I’ll add a little Coke and make a Kalimotxo (or lemon-lime soda for a Tinto de Verano).  

7. If you could drink one wine RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT, what would you want?

Right now I’m on a Fino and Manzanilla sherry kick. Equipo Navazos “La Bota” Manzanilla. That would be my go-to.   


Equipo Navazos “La Bota 70” Manzanilla Pasada MAGNUM, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain  

In keeping with the all-night karaoke and bouncy castle brasserie vibe, we bring you a full-on, honest-to-Pete MAGNUM of sherry. (Because 2016 sucked and why the fuck not?!) Equipo Navazos is a ridiculously interesting project that began just over a decade ago when a group of wine industry friends stumbled upon a few forgotten sherry butts (butt refers to the barrel, but have your giggle now) at an old estate in Andalusia and thought, “We should bottle this. Immediately.” They did, and we’re all the better for it; today, Equipo Navazos roots around the cellars and soleras of some of sherry country’s most traditional estates to get their hands on the rarest and/or best of that nutty, oxidative goodness.

This particular bottle is a blend of several casks of manzanilla – a salty, “special something” fino hailing exclusively from Sanlúcar de Barrameda – averaging 13 years of age. Those extra years in barrel earn this particular wine “pasada” status; they’re also what we have to thank for the uniquely powerful, umami-bomb characteristic that makes this a killer mate for everything (from potato chips to caviar). Help us drink this year under the table, won’t you?

By Lauren Friel | Original photograph via Clay Williams | Illustration by Amanda Lanzone