South Beach Wine & Food Festival

SBWFF 2011: Danny Meyer, Shake Shack, and The Matrix

Danny Meyer, superstar restaurateur and CEO of the group behind Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café, led an unconventional wine tasting at the W Hotel today. Participants tasted each of six Shake Shack menu items with six wines each. We rated these 36 combinations on a matrix. Meyer instructed us to carefully judge each combination with a happy face, a serious face, or a sad face. The point was to find our own individual sweet spots -- that perfect balance of smoky, salty, spicy, sweet, sour, fatty and salty.

"We over analyze wine as a condiment," says Meyer. "It's no more mysterious than mayo, mustard, and pickles. It's just another condiment that we enjoy with our food."

I found that a good Shack Burger paired well with most of the wines,

including a pinot noir, a chianti, and a muscat. Meyer explained the

muscat thing: "Most people drink sodas (sweet) with their burgers."


your taste is your taste, says Meyer. "Next time someone says you're

supposed to have this kind of wine with this kind of food--it's

hogwash. There's no one like you and no one with your individual


Meyer is known for his commitment to consistently great

hospitality at his establishments, which he describes in his

book, Setting the Table. I mentioned my Christmas wish for a citywide

service intervention to Meyer. When I asked him where he's been made to

feel most welcome in Miami, Meyer listed Michy's, Sra. Martinez,

Michael's Genuine and Joe's Stone Crab. "There's groovy and cool and

then there's hospitable. Miami does groovy and cool really well. But I

think you can do both cool and hospitable."

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Trina Sargalski