When Dimitris Zafeiropoulos opens up a bottle of Greek wine, he is immediately transported to Palaio Faliro, the seaside district of Athens where he grew up. As sommelier at Estiatorio Milos, a Greek restaurant in NYC’s Hudson Yards, Zafeiropoulos wants to transport customers, too. And so Zafeiropoulos has compiled a list of more than 100 wines available by the glass, and all of them are Greek.
Wine wasn’t Zafeiropoulos’s first passion. He started out buying toys for Max Stores, a toy and stationery chain based in Athens. At age 27, he moved to the United States to follow another passion: nature photography. He was drawn to vineyards and soon became fascinated by the world of wine, which he likens to “a collaboration between man and nature,” Zafeiropoulos tells VinePair.
VinePair caught up with Zafeiropoulos to ask about his secret love affair with Chardonnay, which wine would replace his last meal on Earth, and what he drinks when he’s not in the mood for wine (yes, it’s still Greek).
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1. What’s the bottle that made you fall in love with wine?
I will never forget that day. It was almost 10 years ago. I remember I had friends over for a casual get-together party. We had a 2000 Châteauneuf-du- Pape from Château La Nerthe. This was when I “bent the knee” to the science of winemaking.
2. FMK three varieties: Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay?
F: Chardonnay. Me and a Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay could hit it off for a few times without anyone knowing.
M: Pinot Noir. Red Burgundy wines have the whole package. Elegant but sometimes spicy; light frame but with full flavor; and the bright acidity at the end will never get you bored.
K: Cabernet. Just because I have to do it. I love a Cab when it is well made. But, I believe it is a grape very often mistreated because it is not grown and vinified as it should be (in its cheaper versions especially).
3. You’re on death row. What’s your last-supper wine?
My last-supper wine would be a dessert wine, like the 2003 Venetsanos Vinsanto. It’s made from Assyrtiko grapes sun-dried for 10 days, and it has a full body with figs, raisins, caramel, and chocolate. I guess it can replace my last supper altogether.
4. You can only drink one wine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Being a sommelier gives me the opportunity to try so many different varietals from all over the world, and I appreciate everything for what it is. The only wine I would settle for drinking for the rest of my life is a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray. Give me enough supply of the 2016 Domaine Huet Haut Lieu Demi-Sec and I would be happy to see how it gracefully evolves over the next several decades.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
This one takes a lot of thought… The bar that has never let me down is Employees Only. It has unrivaled quality of cocktails, a good mix of people, nice music, and an unforgettable hand-cut steak tartare. What else can I ask for?
6. What’s the best and worst wine on your rack (or in your fridge) right now?
My rack usually has wines that I love. I wouldn’t say the worst, but the most mysterious right now is a Cabernet blend form Hungary, Bock Cuvée 2014. Honestly, I haven’t had many Hungarian reds, so I can’t know for sure until I try it. I am a big fan of Champagne, so the best wine I have right now and can’t wait to open is the 2004 Bollinger R.D.
7. If you could no longer drink wine, what would be your beverage of choice?
I like all kinds of liquor when I go out, but there is only one type that you will find at my house at all times. It is Mastiha (usually Skinos) from Greece. Mastiha is a digestif made from a tree resin exclusively grown on the island of Chios. It is my go-to when I want to relax after a stressful day.