Snooth Blog

Snooth User: Philip James

Restaurant Wine Lists

Posted by Philip James, Mar 22, 2007.

At last count we were tracking over 650 types of grapes, along with with several thousand synonyms. We have also indexed 35,000+ wineries, and around 2,000 regions. In total this supports the several hundred thousand wines that are in the database. Thats why it makes me laugh when i walk into a restaurant and the wine list looks like this:

Chateau A 2002 Reserve $45
Chateau B 2002 $36
Chateau C 2003 Prestige $29
Chateau D 2000 Cuvee $86

No descriptions, no information on region, varietals or taste. How is anyone supposed to make a decision? I know that Chateau is French for 'Manor House', but wineries outside France sometimes use the term, so I can't even be sure that the wine is French. Despite working in the industry, I have no idea what I'm looking at.

This really isn't that rare. Last weekend i went out to dinner at an Argentinian restaurant. I wanted to try a good malbec from Argentina. A common choice as malbec is a lesser known French varietal that really came into its own under the sunny Argentine skies, where the grapes get much riper and the resultant wine fruitier. The wine list was useless (House A, B, C again), so I asked the waiter for help.

I specifically asked for a fruity Argentine malbec. He pointed to the entire front page and said they were all malbec's. I asked which was the most fruit forward and he waved his hand across the entire page again. I was thirsty so just pointed to one which I then ordered.

Maybe one day that wine will be fruity, but not just yet. It was young, closed and green - it needed to age another year or two.

The world of wine is vast and intricate. It doesn't help matters when the people selling it don't know what they are doing.

Replies

Blog comment by Clint, Mar 29, 2007.

If you want a try an unbelievable Malbec, here you go - a bit pricey, but well worth the bucks... actually one of the best bottles I've ever had:

http://www.wine.com/wineshop/produc...

(soon enough we'll be able to post these links at snooth.com addresses, eh?)

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Reply by amour, Jan 6, 2010.

I have already identified two malbec threads.......here is yet another kind of malbec thread, but not exclusively so.
NOT COMPLAINING!!
Just simply pulling it up to the attention, and hopefully the benefit , of those
following MALBEC and indeed everyone else.

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Reply by amour, Jan 6, 2010.

ALL RESTAURANTS THAT SERVE WINE SHOULD DO A BETTER JOB
PRESENTING WINES.
I always take dignified control of the winelist or call up beforehand and figure it out.

But, as you said, sometimes one casually stops in for a meal and even in such
circumstances one should be able to get full-service including suggestions
and at a minimum as detailed information as one requires to settle the choice.

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Reply by Degrandcru, Jan 6, 2010.

Depends a lot on the type of restaurant. High end restaurants usually have a knowledgeble sommelier to consult. I like small restaurants with a "hand picked" limited wine selection by the owner or chef.

Question is how well you can train an average waiter on a wine list? A friend of mine sells Argentinian wines to Argentinian restaurants (in México City there is one on every street corner). He regularly trains the stuff at the restaurants he is selling to, but admits that this is an almost impossible task. How do you teach wine to a mexican waiter, who would never drink wine himself (just out of economical reasons). Or how would you teach the average US college kid waiter on the subject?

So what remains is a better description on the wine list/menu. That depends on the owner/chef and how seriously he takes his profession.

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Reply by amour, Jan 6, 2010.

Well said!
But there should be someone there who can respond competently on the wines.

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Reply by amour, Jan 6, 2010.

And here comes yet another role of SNOOTH !
Any average person with an interest can increase his/her knowledge by joining SNOOTH.
Average waiters, with age capacity, and a serious interest may well improve customer service
by studying SNOOTH regularly.
As you said, it depends...high end or average and location and of course what is being offered.
THE FACT REMAINS>>>RESTAURANTS WHO OFFER WINES SHOULD KNOW THEM OR AT LEAST MAKE THE EFFORT TO PRESENT EACH WINE WITH A DETAILED NOTE.
They will possibly sell more wine that way.
They will definitely have better satisfied customers
and a higher customer-service rating which could only help them in the market.


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