Monday, April 27, 2015

Rant: A Single Country Wine List

Consider this: You dine at a new Italian restaurant and while you peruse it's wine list, you see that they only carry Italian wines. There is no California Chardonnay or Australian Shiraz.  You see listings for Chianti and Prosecco, but you also find wines with unfamiliar grapes, like Grillo, Frappato and Arneis. Does this situation bother you because you can't find the California wines you enjoy?  Does this situation bother you because you don't know much about many of those Italian wines? Or are you pleased with the wine menu, relishing the adventure of exploring the list?

There are restaurants which choose to limit their wine list to a single country, to fit their ethnic cuisine, though locally, they are in the minority.  Most wine lists try to cater to diverse tastes, not willing to take the risk of a single country list. They fear offending some of their customers by not having certain types of wines. Their wine list might be predominately from one country, but there will be a percentage from at least several other countries. Is that really necessary?

I respect a restaurant willing to create a single country wine list, and I know I'm sure to find plenty of wines that will enjoy. I also savor the adventure of exploring such a list, trying wines that are new to me. Sure, wines from all over the world can pair well with Italian cuisine, but if an Italian restaurant only wants to offer Italian wines to pair with their cuisine, I am fully supportive of their desire. It is a way to expose more consumers to the diversity and wonders of Italian wine, to helping to broaden their palates. 

You wouldn't go to an Italian restaurant and expect to find Australian meat pies or Southern-style fried chicken, so why expect to find wines from places other than Italy? You are going for the experience of Italian cuisine, and wine is actually food. Thus, it makes sense that Italian wine is served as part of the Italian cuisine. This applies to any ethnic restaurant which chooses to limit its wine list to the country of it's cuisine. 

For many restaurants though, it is a matter of money. There are consumers who would object to such a singular wine list. They are too set in their ways, and want to be able to get their California Chardonnay no matter what restaurant where they dine. If a restaurant has a single country wine list, they won't attract these type of customers, and that could have negative economic consequences for the restaurant. 

We need to give our support to those restaurant brave enough to have a single country wine list, to dine at such restaurants and enjoy their wine choices. 

What are your thoughts on restaurants with single country wine lists? Do you have any favorite restaurants with such a list?

No comments: