If you’re anything like me, then as soon as you sit down at a restaurant, pub, bar or cafe you immediately reach for the wine list to persue. Every establishment has their own particular style when it comes to their wine menu, and rightly they should to reflect their brand and keep their clientèle happy. But sometimes wine lists at even the nicest places in town can be a bit hit and miss which is a darn shame in my books as we all have to agree that it’s not the cheapest to drink out these days.
This post was inspired by the lovely Pia over at the Girl+Beer blog when she wrote a piece on beer lists. I am an avid reader of her blog and I really enjoyed this piece wrote. After a few tweets back and forth regarding this post, we both agreed that a wine list post of the same nature was in order! So here are my thoughts on wine lists…
Should you really call yourself a ‘wine bar’?
Seriously, it really gets on my nerves when places have the word ‘wine bar’ in their name because to me, it should be a place where wine is the hero. It should be evident in the list that a lot of time and effort has gone into it. There should be a wide range of wines by the glass and bottle plus the staff should be able to give you the run down on every single wine. If food is served up, it should compliment the wines and I’d go as far as putting on the food menu what wines would be the best match.
Really do you need 5 Kiwi Sauv Blancs?
As you guys know, I’m a Kiwi and I do love my NZ Sauvy. For me it’s a very safe choice when out as I am pretty confident I know what I’m going to get. However seriously there is no need for 5 different Kiwi Sauv Blancs – get creative. If Sauv is such a good seller then get some lovely Sauv in from Sancerre in France or why not opt for a creative blend, and by that I don’t mean stuffing the list with SBS or SSB blends – look wider. The trick here is to educate consumers, do the old – if you like this, then you should probably try this. Which leads me onto my next point…
If you’re going to be quirky, help us understand..
When putting together a wine list, don’t be scared to step out of your comfort zone and not follow what’s in fashion to drink. I admit, I am a weirdo and I love picking the strangest thing on the wine list, especially if I haven’t heard of it, however I know a lot of people won’t do this. So help people, explain what that weird wacky grape variety is, or where in the world that region no-one can pronounce is. Give a little more about the wine than just the name. I hate asking questions when I’m out (I’m that person who has to Google foodie terms at restaurants because I don’t want to look like a fool asking what EVOO is!) but if it’s on the menu then I’m one happy chappy. Give us some info about the wine, just a sentence will do to let us know what it’s like – but don’t use snobby wine terms which we’ll have to Google!
How long have those bottles been open for?
A good point Girl+Beer made was if there are a ton of wines by the glass, it does make you wonder how long they’ve been open for. Personally I love a decent sized wines by the glass menu, but make sure that bottle has been opened today, or yesterday max. There are even wine stoppers around which let you code in the opening date. If I ran a restaurant it might be wise to make a note on the menu that all bottles are opened fresh on the day or one day prior. Otherwise let guests taste prior to buying – I have to admit I do love getting a taste of something before even buying just a glass – that’s good service and my taste buds are rest assured they’re going to get something good.
Match your list to your establishment..
It goes without saying really, but if you have a pub and you do cheap weekday lunches you want wines to match which are cost-friendly, food-friendly and you don’t want to go overboard on the list. However if you’re a fine dining restaurant go for gold with the wine list but make sure you order it in a sensible way so we can easily find the perfect wine.
You don’t need to mirror the local bottle-o..
If you spend a lot of time at your local bottle-o and then go out and have to pay nearly double for the same wine it is so off-putting. I know there’s a reason for restaurant wine prices but that’s a very good reason to look for wine to include on your wine list which aren’t readily available at the local bottle shops. As with the whole quirky point, the more out-of-the-box you goes it just means the more effort venues need to put in to sell those wines – which is a good thing. There’s a lot of effort which goes into a good bottle of wine, and it deserves the respect – trust me! The thing is, if the effort goes into the wine list, I’m pretty sure it’ll have a positive impact in the long run. I for one would keep going back!
So in your opinion what makes a good wine list? And what doesn’t?