Franktuary's Wine & Wiener Wednesday offers unique dining experience

You know what would go great with this chili dog? A nice glass of 2005 Chateau Petrus.


It’s Wine & Wiener Wednesday tonight at Franktuary in Lawrenceville, where the commoner and the connoisseur meet to eat, drink, learn and have fun.

The hot dogs range from good to gourmet. The wines, provided by Dreadnought Wines in the Strip District, are specifically chosen for the evening. They don’t just wash the wiener down; they complement it.

“It came about as a joint effort,” said Rob McCaughey, wine and spirits educator for Dreadnought Wines. “I’m a big fan of just kind of hanging out in a bar, and one night we were all [at Franktuary] and after a few drinks, the ideas started to flow. And we thought, ‘Wine & Wiener Wednesdays. You know, there’s some nice alliteration there. We could do something with that.’”

That was last summer. The first Wine & Wiener event — held the first Wednesday of each month — was in September, and it’s been steadily growing in popularity.

“It’s kind of a fun idea and people seem to like it,” said Mr. McCaughey, who has been with Dreadnought Wines since April. “It gets people trying different wines in an environment where they wouldn’t normally necessarily expect to find them.”

Evidently, wine and hot dogs go together like baseball and apple pie. Or something like that.

Dreadnought Wines has been importing and distributing wine and spirits for 35 years. The company also engages the community in conversations and education about wines.

“We try to do fun events so that people don’t think wine is just stuffy and formal,” said Deb Mortillaro, owner of Dreadnought Wines. “We do Wine & Wiener Wednesdays all the way through to very formal classes where you are certified for completing them. For these events, we do the wine component. Franktuary does the hot dog component.”

“We are a gourmet hot dog shop,” said Franktuary co-owner Megan Lindsey. “We started with a New York-style frank because my business partner is from New York and grew up eating hot dogs in Manhattan. We have a variety of vegetarian, sausage hot dogs from local farms, wild-caught salmon, turkey. And we do a lot of exotic condiment options.

“The ‘Pittsburgh,’ for example, is very popular. It has a smooshed pierogie and coleslaw on top of it. I think we have eight base sausages or hot dogs, and we have about 14 different styles. We have a lot of build-your-own choices as well.”

The Wine & Wiener Wednesdays, however, focus on a special hot dog with different toppings, each accompanied by a different wine.

“Tonight they’re doing — this is going to sound crazy — fish wieners for Lent,” Ms. Mortillaro said. “And we have some spectacular Spanish wines that we’re matching up with them. Woo-hoo!”

Everyone knows that certain wines go better with certain foods. But, in this case, it’s not the hot dogs that are the focus.

“We match the wine to the toppings,” Ms. Mortillaro said. “It’s like Thanksgiving. You don’t match the wine to the turkey, you match it to what you’re stuffing the turkey with. Because turkey doesn’t have that much flavor.”

“The frankfurter is like the canvas and the toppings are like the palette,” Mr. McCaughey said.

Let’s look at descriptions from tonight’s menu of wines and toppings, shall we?

First, we have Blanc de Pacs with quince paste —a pear-like fruit jelly/​paste — and goat cheese.

“Yellow lemon color with light green tints. On the nose intense aroma of pear and apple. In the mouth it is fresh and with a good acidity. Resulting in a soft wine, leaving an intense sensation of fruits and freshness on the finish.”

Next up, Mas Petit with grilled garlic eggplant and kalamata olives.

“Cherry color and mild intensity. Aroma of red fruits on a background of soft toast and vanilla. The palate is soft and round with velvety tannins. Intertwined notes of seed fruit and vanilla.”

And finally, Indigena (Garnatxa grapes) with blackberry salad and bacon.

“Lovely ripeness of generous raspberry flavors. Starting elegant floral scents, the nose shows creamy and fresh wild fruit, very complex and intense. This shows dominating fresh red fruit with a hint of exotic spice note and smoky oak undertones in mouth. Well balanced, long and very fine.”

Hot dog!

The wines are from the family-owned winery of Pares Balta in northeast Spain, near Barcelona. Dating to 1790, the groves are fertilized by family-owned sheep, and the vines are pollinated by family-owned bees.

“It’s near the Mediterranean coast, so it’s a very seafood-friendly area,” said Mr. McCaughey. “There’s not a lot of oak on the wines, so they’re very fruitful. They have great minerality and great acidity, which is important with seafood.”

Apparently, the relationship between hot dog, topping and wine is fairly important. So we asked Mr. McCaughey for other suggestions — just in case we don’t care for the fruit jelly and goat cheese.

Heinz Ketchup: “I would actually go with a nice rose.”

Grey Poupon: “I would go with something fairly easy drinking. A nice chardonnay.”

Sauteed onions: “You definitely go with a nice Grenache.”

There’s so much to learn. You can start tonight with Wine & Wiener Wednesday at Franktuary, 3810 Butler St., from 6 to 9 p.m. Your $12 admission gets you a nice hot dog cut into three healthy pieces, each with a different topping and a different wine.

Frankly, how could you go wrong?

Dan Majors:


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