Tasting Counter Debuts a Late-Night Natural Wine Bar

Every weekend in Somerville, affordable pours will accompany bites like crispy Reuben dumplings and red chili noodles.

Natural wine selections at tasting counter and chefs Marcos Sanchez (L) and owner Peter Ungár

Natural wine selections at tasting counter and chefs Marcos Sanchez (L) and owner Peter Ungár. / Photo provided

The haute cuisine from the chefs at Tasting Counter became a bit more accessible last summer with the addition of inexpensive, late-night bites on weekend nights. Beginning tonight, a wide selection of natural wines is now part of the after-hours scene.

The 20-seat Tasting Counter not only sets itself apart by its location in the back of Aeronaut Brewing Company and its inclusive, buy-ahead ticketing, but also by its 100 percent natural mission. Using criteria outlined on its website, beverage director Eileen Elliott’s wine selection also adheres to that mission. Tasting Counter offers the Boston area’s only fully natural wine program, according to its website.

“It’s our belief that natural wines are how wines should be: unmanipulated,” says chef and owner Peter Ungár. “Tasting a wine from a natural grower is like they are sitting at the table having a glass with you. These wines have more emotion and are more alive. They are also the most authentic expression of taste of place.”

While that may sound a little lofty to non-oenophiles, Ungár says natural wines have flavor qualities that make them superior to average bottles, too. Typically more acidic vintages, natural wines make ideal pairing beverages because of their fresh aromatics, and liveliness on the palate, he says.

“We love these wines and love to share them with our guests,” Ungár says.

Since the late night menu launched, Tasting Counter has always offered a couple, affordable glasses to accompany the bites. Expanding the list to nine by-the-glass options is an opportunity for the chefs and managers, whom are in full view of guests around the counter, to spend more time with guests. It will also introduce new visitors to the restaurant beyond the tasting menu (which, by the way, is certainly worth the investment).

“We help select the perfect glass for you,” Ungár says.

The wines have been purposefully selected to pair with the night’s bites. Check out this weekend’s menu below. Going forward, Ungár says the program will also give Tasting Counter a chance to check out some raw and otherwise limited finds that the team can’t really offer as tasting menu accompaniments, because of the available quantity.

Late-night bites at Tasting Counter are available every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

14 Tyler St., Somerville, 617-299-6362, tastingcounter.com.