Restaurant Wine Lists
Let me first get a little "pet peeve" out of the way...I am tired of theme restaurants (particularly Italian and Chinese) that have a full menu of regional items, but their wine list doesn't match the cuisine. Even further, their decor and music doesn't follow the theme. When I go to an Italian restaurant, I want the establishment to take me to another place. I want to feel like I am visiting Tuscany. The food, the decor and even the background music. Nothing like walking in, and hearing rap music blazing in the background to prep me for the Floretine Steak and a bottle of Chianti (sarcasm intended).
When it comes to restaurants, there are a number of things that the owner (or Sommelier) needs to pay attention to: 1) the wine list; 2) proper storage; 3) service; and 4) a trained staff.
My favorite wine lists give me a range of options. I can flip through their wine list by country, or by grape variety. Their pricing is reasonable, and they have the wine in stock (read about some wine experiences - both good and bad, we recently had in Monterey). The wines are also served by a trained staff member, or the Sommelier, and arrive at the correct service temperature. Also, if your wine list is an encyclopedia, give me some time to look it over. It will take me more than a couple minutes to sift through the volumes of wine on the list. Yeah, you know I am a "wine geek" when I look for a wine first, then figure out what food item I am going to order to best pair with my wine choice.
As a Sommelier, the wine list, the food, and ambiance should all lead to a pleasurable experience. I want the customer to walk away talking positively about the restaurant. I want them to come back, and bring their friends. As a customer, I want to be taken away to another place, and escape from everyday life for a couple hours. I want to eat tapas in Barcelona, and sip a nice glass of Rioja, all while sitting here in California. Is that too much to ask for? I don't think so!