Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Here's The Thing About Wine Lists

This past April I took a trip to Spain (partially solo, the other part with my brother Luke) and explored as much as I could of Madrid and Barcelona. No trip of mine is complete without looking up hot restaurants and exploring the food. Did I tour wineries? Nope, this trip was about anything but work. Of course I can't help notice things that relate to work along the way, and this is a topic I knew I had to blog about when I got back: Wine Lists.

One would think that being in a country that produces so much excellent wine would mean that every place I went would have wonderful, interesting wines. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the places I went to eat the wine selection was mediocre at best with lots of mass produced juice featured prominently. While this seemed surprising at first when I thought about it made sense. These wines have known brand names, most restaurant owners know little about wine (this seems to be universally true) and putting together a great wine list is serious work. It requires wine knowledge, research, good relationships with small distributors, the aptitude to bring in wines in multiple styles and price points and a little bravery to feature wines that need to be explained to be appreciated. One exception was Bar Mutt in Barcelona. The food was divine, the wine list fantastic (recognized many of our labels) and the service dismal. Oh well, can't wine them all.

So the next time you visit an independent restaurant with a great wine list keep all that in mind when you order a bottle. A great wine list is a thing to be appreciated all on its own.

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