NOT DRINKING POISON
NOT DRINKING POISON Podcast
Ep. 10: Crislaine Medina of Le Cheval d'Or
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Ep. 10: Crislaine Medina of Le Cheval d'Or

A chat with Cape Verdean restauratrice Crislaine Medina, former sommelière at Le Rigmarole, presently running newly reborn 19th arrondissement restaurant Le Cheval d'Or.
Just your typical Chinese restaurant. Crislaine Medina outside Le Cheval d’Or.

I realized [natural] winemakers in particular were outsiders in their communities, too, in a way. And I’ve always been kind of an underdog, an outsider. - Crislaine Medina

What does Crislaine Medina, the Cape Verde-born co-proprietor of Paris 19th arrondissement restaurant Le Cheval d’Or, have in common with legendary MCs MF Doom and 21 Savage? She, too, ran into trouble in the USA as a longtime illegal immigrant. In her case, after high school in Bucks Country, Pennsylvania, she found herself ineligible for university tuition aid in the USA. It inspired her to move to Paris, where alongside studies in literature she apprenticed herself to natural wine at Left Bank traditional bistrot Les Pipos. Before taking over the 19th-arrondissement restaurant Le Cheval d’Or with her husband Luis Andrade and their partners Nadim Smair and Hanz Gueco in August 2023, Medina had a star-making turn as the opening sommelière of 11th-arrondissement yakitori-and-more destination Le Rigmarole.

At Le Cheval d’Or, Medina collaborates with young Japanese sommelier Taiki Sakurai on an unusual natural wine list that aims to integrate as many international influences as their kitchen. (Chef Gueco is Philippino-Australian, while Andrade is Cape Verdean-Portuguese.) Alongside natural wine classics from the Beaujolais and Burgundy, one finds familiar favorites from Italy and newly-minted masterpieces from Moravia. (For the Le Cheval d’Or space itself, the new partnership also represents a rebirth of sorts, coming three years after the tragic passing of its former chef, Taku Sekine, who first brought renown to the site with a Chinese-inspired menu.)

During set-up at Le Cheval d’Or in early December, I joined Medina to talk about her decade of experience in Paris natural wine circles, and how her perspective as a lifelong immigrant has shaped her approach to hospitality, natural wine lists, and menus. Check out the episode for Medina’s thoughts on her most beloved Beaujolais vigneron; her early challenges selling natural wine in Paris as a foreign black woman speaking limited French at the time; and how she came to consider Paris her true home.

Aaron


FURTHER LISTENING & READING

NDP PODCAST Series II: Contemporary Paris Natural Wine, Part I
Ep. 7: Oliver Lomeli of Chambre Noire
Ep. 8: Jessica Yang & Robert Compagnon of Folderol & Le Rigmarole
Ep. 9: Louis Mesana of Café Montezuma

NDP PODCAST Series II: Contemporary Paris Natural Wine, Part II
Ep. 11: Oliver Gage of Rock Bottles
Ep. 12: Nathan Ratapu of Rerenga Wines

NOT DRINKING POISON PODCAST Series I: Paris Natural Wine Lifers, Part I
NOT DRINKING POISON PODCAST Series I: Paris Natural Wine Lifers, Part II

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NOT DRINKING POISON
NOT DRINKING POISON Podcast
Natural wine culture, by Aaron Ayscough. Reporting from Paris since 2010. Roughly a third of this podcast is available for free. For access to the other episodes - and to heaps of wine interviews, profiles, translations, commentary, and more - subscribe to