Wine Talk

Snooth User: Faron S

What you'd like to see in Wine Bars

Posted by Faron S, Aug 13, 2010.

What are the "must-have-wines" when you visit a wine bar?  Or just stuff you'd really like to see. This can become tricky with "by-the-glass" stuff, because I imagine people can become quite cautious with a glass of wine above the $12 figure. Any insights??

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Replies

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Reply by amour, Aug 13, 2010.

Definitely some great SAUTERNES / BORDEAUX / FRANCE.

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Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Aug 13, 2010.

Are you going to have a preservation system?  If not, you can kiss the expensive btg bottles down the drain.

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 13, 2010.

Where will you be located?

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Reply by ChipDWood, Aug 13, 2010.

All depends upon the location.

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Reply by Faron S, Aug 13, 2010.

It's in Coconut Creek, Florida, about 30 miles north of Miami. I know, Florida is not on the same level as Cali or New York, but who knows that we'll get there someday.

@ Gril Drink Drunk: Yes, we do have preservation systems, but still kind of on the fence of having the "expensive" btg stuff.

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Reply by amour, Aug 13, 2010.

Wherever you are located , please be simply elegant...no need to be gaudy and over the top....may your watchwords be

 .... simplicity ,  elegance ,  whatever the decor!

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 13, 2010.

Stuff that reflects the owner/sommelier's interest in wine, with choices for folks that like 'em in the "International" (read: commercial) style, but not necessarily the big name or mass marketed wines.  Here we go:  Please don't make your top Cali Cab Silver Oak or Artemis, be original. Do not, under pain of death, carry Clos du Bois. Then, lots of reasonably priced wines with individuality-not just (or even) French, but Spanish, non-Barbera Italian, Greek, Basque, Portugese, stuff from off the beaten path, and wineries from California like Ventana that are something you can find in your own neighborhood but aren't exceedingly well known.  Finally, pourers who can accurately tell me what I am getting into in a flavor profile.  Oh, and one really terrific wine that is totally underpriced for the person who isn't afraid to order something that no one else has heard of and doesn't try to impress his date by spending a lot. Does that make sense?  As someone who used to travel to Florida a bit, I appreciate the effort.  You have a market that you can educate, if you get my drift.

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Reply by MReff, Aug 14, 2010.

proper storage....and a staff that is knowledgeable and passionate about what they are pouring!

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Reply by luca chevalier, Aug 14, 2010.

of course boubbles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! from many places and style..anyway you must have a wine for all occasion, boubbles for the apetizers, withes for the first course, reds for the middle plats and great sweet wine....for the sweet....and don't forghet to preserve the best vintages...

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Reply by Faron S, Aug 14, 2010.

Thanks for all the great feedback guys.

Amour, I love the simplicity and elegance philosophy. Service Service Service.

Foxall, I agree that the Florida market can be educated, and most of all, get to enjoy wine. It does seem that a lot people here like the California stuff. Though, I am leaning toward having some stuff from the off-the beaten path and stuff that's a little harder to get but still for a good value.

 

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Reply by jamessulis, Aug 14, 2010.

I would love to see either Layer Cake Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina and or Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State. This should satisfy your red heavies.

Lefty - The Great Pacific Northwest

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 14, 2010.

Forgot to also ask, what kind of food will you be serving?

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 14, 2010.

dmcker is right, knowing what you serve is crucial.  I vote against the Layer Cake Malbec just because I see it everywhere.  Frankly, I think we shouldn't suggest any particular wine--more what we like in a vibe--the wines should reflect YOUR interests, with a mind to giving customers what they like. One thing I like about wine bars and restaurants with good btg menus is the chance to try stuff I haven't had without investing in a bottle or more.  I agree the key thing is staff who are enthusiastic and not snobby--if people like semi-fruit bombs, just pour them good ones at a decent value.  Then open them up to wines with more character.  Fla can be educated--truth is, you are getting a good cross section now from all over.  One of the people I really enjoy drinking wine with lived in Tequesta/Juno/Jupiter area for a while, and his whole staff were quite into it.

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Reply by jamessulis, Aug 14, 2010.

Foxall, the reason you see Layer Cake Malbec everywhere is because it's pretty damn good stuff so why go for something that has not been proven? I think that you have to please your clients and I'm sure a lot of people in the Southeast may not even know about the wonderful tastings of Argentina Malbecs. Further I suggest to FaronS is that if he's looking for profit, check out some of the wines from Chateau Ste., Michelle in Washington, they rock and are excellent values along with many choices of the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, and Pinot Gris from the state of Oregon, they too are excellent values and great wines to say the least. I'm predijuced because I live in the state of Washington but even if I didn't Washington and Oregon produce world class wines and are on the scale with the finest from Napa Valley and France but at a much more economical price.

Lefty - The Great Pacific Northwest

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Reply by gregt, Aug 14, 2010.

James - the problem with pouring something like Layer Cake is that since it's so widely available, people know the retail cost pretty well.  It's not expensive and if someone were to order it, the chances are that they've bought it a few times.  Nothing  wrong with that, but the wine bar can't sell it for the same price as the retail shop and as a result, the owner or even the waiter gets cursed out by the customer who thinks he's getting ripped off.

Then there is the second issue of the type of place the wine bar wants to be.  Layer Cake is made by a guy who goes to various countries and buys up grapes, then makes wine from them.  It's a kind of generic wine that's supposed to represent those varieties. 

That DOESN'T mean it's a bad wine.  It does however, mean that some people just aren't going to want it on their menu.  They won't be able to talk about terroir or the little winemaker behind his horse and plow or whatever else they like to talk about.  Personally, I'd actually put something like that on my menu because I think most people who talk about those other things have no idea what they're talking about, but you can't tell you customers that or they'll never come back.

I think you are right in that the wine bar needs a few things that are kind of "standard", but I wouldn't put in a wine that's really ubiquitous.  You might have a group of people come in and one of them is just going to want a "chardonnay" or a "merlot" or a "pinot noir' and they think of these things almost as commodities. That's where you need a good value that people might not have looked at otherwise.  If you can find a small producer who's got something good and inexpensive that the people won't have seen too often and that fits the "commodity" bill, you have a winner.  And to be honest, I'd put in some of the Columbia Crest wines.  THey're all over but a lot of people don't know how good they are simply because they're easily avaiable. I'd also look for more specialized wines. For example, I have a malbec from Salta that's organic, made in small quantities by a family who's been in the business for a while, and you're not going to see it all over.  Currently wine geeks are interested in Salta, probably because it's not Mendoza, they like organic, and they like the backstory. 

The problem with going the other way is that people like to think of themselves as wine savvy, but many really aren't.  So you get stories like the food writer for the VIllage Voice who went to one of the best wine bars in Manhattan and wrote a scathing piece because they didn't have wines he heard of or liked and they had a lot of German wines, etc. 

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 14, 2010.

Coconut Creek is an interesting area. It's near a number of affluent areas, but isn't entirely affluent itself. It is a more-or-less planned community with a lot of attention focused on the wildlife (flora and fauna) around it, with a corresponding rise in related areas of social consciousness. I would think the general drinking population there would be somewhat astute, but maybe also not entirely knowledgeable regarding a number of regions and wines. A wine bar there shouldn't be the same as one in Palm Beach or South Beach or Tampa or..., but have a number of focuses, the central one, of course, being the taste and sensibilities of its owner.

Because of the Hispanic influence on the area, I would definitely have major representation by wines from Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile. Because it's in sourthern Florida and often warm and sunny and while not on the beach still influenced by the sea, I'd also have plenty of whites and roses, both sparkling and still, making an effort to also include southern France and Italy. And because it is in the States, I'd also have plenty of American wine, definitely California and Oregon and Washington, but also maybe (and these come a definite fourth place, subject to culling due to space limitations) some from New York, whether upstate or Long Island.

Before getting more specific with types of wines that might be good in each of those categories, I'll wait to hear back from you, Faron S. about your stylistic likes and dislikes, the types of food you want to serve, etc.  But I'd also like to suggest that, following on Greg's comments about the desirability of lesser known gems, you take a look at the approach by and offerings from places like the Garagiste listserv, or North Berkeley Imports.

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Reply by Faron S, Aug 15, 2010.

Jamessulis and Foxall bring up a good point: Pleasing the Customer. But of course as I've already seen in this forum, there are so many options. Greg T makes a great point with pouring something that is widely available, yet I haven't really seen that Layer Cake is that widely available in this area (I'll check again). In that case, the right price becomes very important to not offend customers.

James, Chateau St. Michelle wines are quite popular and are definetely a go! I like them too and they're great values. This is an example of a wine that almost every restaurant carries, but for a good reason: people like it.

GregT: I will definetely look into small producers. Are you familiar with Venge wines? At the same time carrying some standadrs is a good idea. Columbia Crest is one such possiblity. I tried their Gewurz and found it quite enjoyable. The idea is having some good mainstream wines balanced out well with some more boutique ones. Wine for everyone! Of course, this will be a trial and error process.

Dmcker, you seem to be quite familiar with the area, are you a local? We have not fully developed our food menu. But will have a different variety of fingerfoods (cheese platters, humus/pita, crackers, bruschetta) and have the neighbouring restaurants be able to cater to our customers. Our stylistic likes lean toward the California/Washington/Oregon wines. You make a great point with the latin american influence here in South FL. So, for sure, Argentina and Chile are first on the list, while Spanish and Portugese wines come after (a Martin Codax or Don Olegario Albarino). I liked the forum about the Malbecs, so I went to taste some and liked the Achaval Ferrer. The whites, roses and sparklings definetely a "go" too. I like the Rieslings, Dr. L, Saint M, and little more unknown here Donnhoff. Some New Zeeland, Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs probably. France and Italy are probably being included but to a lesser extent, from what we've heard they haven't been super popular in the area (not to say that they're not good wines). Red Burgundy's, Sauternes? 

This will be an ongoing journey of trying to see what the customer likes.

I've really appreciated all your comments guys!

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Reply by gregt, Aug 15, 2010.

Layer Cake is kind of a negociant wine.  Many such wines are quite good and they're also the type of wines that offer the best values - check the prices of a case of Guigal's negociant syrah against the price of a single bottle of one of the LaLas.  Some people are offended by wines like Layer Cake because they take the negociant model to another level - operating around the world instead of within a defined boundary, but in principle, if the guy is good and has a decent palate, it's possible to find very enjoyable wine at a good price.  If you were to do something with that particular wine, select one of the less common ones - i.e. don't take the malbec, shiraz, or cab.  Take something like the sangiovese. And all over the world you can find good negociants - lots of good Rhones and Spanish wines that fit the bill. 

Same with Columbia Crest or any of the other wines in the Chat St Michelle family - the basic level cab or merlot and chard are all over in every supermarket, so select something like their riesling or their gwertz.  They've got a few rieslings actually and they're all pretty good and that gives you an opportunity to upsell your customers - if they order the same wine, suggest that one take a German riesling and one a WA.  And have some from Hunter Valley because people tend not to look there and those can be available for incredibly cheap prices.

For the same reason, have a zin and a primitivo from Italy.  It will spark some conversation with the people at the table and they'll walk out of the place feeling like they got more than just a glass of wine. 

In your area I"d imagine that Vinho Verde can be a great wine and those have the advantage of being dirt cheap.  So surprise the customers by having a red Vinho Verde - most of them won't have had that before. 

Albarino and Godello from Spain can be outstanding and inexpensive.  Nebbiolo can be wonderful - don't need a Barbaresco, just get a plain Nebbiolo.  Take a look at this wine list - scroll down to see the selections.  It's one of the best in NYC.

http://www.wineisterroir.com/

 

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 15, 2010.

How many wines are you intitially planning to pour by the glass, and how many do you plan to have available by the bottle?

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 15, 2010.

And Greg, can you post a URL where the Village Voice was trashing Grieco's choice of riesling for the summer?

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