For Sande Friedman, wine was always designed to complement food.
“The same with beer,” she added. “That’s the lifestyle.”
The 2010 journalism and American studies Temple alumna is the cheese director, beverage director and marketing and education director at Tria, a wine and cheese bar. Friedman oversees the purchasing and inventory of all the wines and beers that Tria carries, and runs the weekly staff training events.
“Every staff member tastes every wine, beer and cheese,” Friedman said. “We tap everything through the lens of how our staff can help you when you walk in.”
“Things that grow together go together,” said Aja Tenerovich, a server and bartender. “It makes a lot of sense to me to pair local things with local things, like a French goat cheese with a French wine.”
Tenerovich also finds the science behind pairings interesting, and uses her knowledge to help guests find the perfect combination.
“The proteins in cheese are attracted to the chemical reaction of tannins in the wine,” Tenerovich said. “It breaks down your saliva in a way and makes you appreciate the protein better. That’s scientifically pretty cool.”
The menus at Tria are designed to help guests make sense of the offerings, and the options don’t change often.
“Our menus are laid out in a way so the top is the lighter body, and the bottom tends to be much heavier,” said Ben Jones, a server and bartender.
“All of our menus compliment each other,” Friedman said. “We don’t do menus that change. While we do pay homage to seasonal beverages, we always have something of every style. You can come in December, and again in July and get the same dark, stout beer. There’s always one available.”
Tria’s niche is as Philly’s “original wine-and-cheese bar,” but the restaurant is also taking a modern spin on things by incorporating beer as well.
The two owners of Tria each respectively oversee the wine and beer selection.
“Jon Myerow is our beer director, he chooses every single beer,” Friedman said. “Our wine director, Michael McCaulley, has worked in lots of different wineries and vineyards.”
One of Myerow and McCaulley’s mottos, Friedman said, is “they want beer to grow up and wine to chill out,” meaning both should be accessible to guests.
One way to do that is make a dish that’s “cool-looking and straightforward,” said general manager Kevin Foley of Tria’s Truffled Egg Toast with Fontina Fontal, paired with Crémant du Jura Brut, a bubbly wine.
The dish is a “sliced square of brioche with fontina melted on top with a raw egg yolk,” Foley said.
The wine paired with the truffled egg toast is chardonnay, one of the traditional grapes of champagne, grown in Jura in Eastern France.
“The notes are kind of nutty, it’s super elegant and luscious,” Foley said. “Anything rich would go well with it, because the bubbles cleanse your palate.”
The classic pairing costs under $20.
“It’s fun, decadent and inexpensive,” Friedman said.
“It’s probably one of our biggest sellers,” Foley added. “It’s super delicious, an easy snack — it’s addictive.”
Tria enjoys taking spins on the classics, but often concentrates on timeless wine and cheese pairings, Friedman said.
“Like champagne and rich cheeses,” he added. “We bring that in with sparkling wine and mouth-coating cheeses.”
The staff focuses in on what works about the textures of the projects, and enjoys doing it.
“Tria pushes stinky cheese and bubbly beers,” Friedman said, as those are “really fun ones to approach.”
Friedman also noted that the staff has fun with dessert and wine pairings, like barleywine and blue cheese, or a “funky cherry beer with blue cheeses.”
Ultimately, the staff at Tria finds pleasure in making exciting pairings for guests.
“Pairing specific items with other items can enhance an experience for a guest,” Foley said.
“If something is paired properly, you can appreciate both items tenfold,” Tenerovich said. “A really good wine and a really good cheese made for each other will exponentially positively affect your experience.”
Tsipora Hacker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video by Harrison Brink.