Monday, September 14, 2020

Rant: Secret Wine Lists

Many people area aware of restaurants, especially chains, which have secret menu items. Consider the famed Animal Burger at In-and-Out Burger. You'll also find secret items at McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Starbuck's, Five Guys, KFC, and plenty more. A quick Google search will turn up all of that information. There are higher end restaurants which also offer secret menu items, though it might take a little more effort to Google them.

However, are there secret wine lists? 

Yes, they exist but they seem to be much more undercover, and you may not find them listed online anywhere. You often have to receive information about the existence of these secret wines from some insider. Or, you could ask a restaurant's sommelier or server whether such a list exists. Why are these lists so much more secret than the food items? Are wine lovers just more secretive than food lovers? 

This past weekend, I dined at a Cape Cod restaurant with a rather ordinary wine list, nothing truly exciting. At such a restaurant, I might have just ordered cocktails with dinner, especially as they had a couple compelling cocktails listed on their menu. However, prior to my trek to the Cape, I received a valuable tip from an insider about this restaurant, mentioning that they had some intriguing wines off their menu. All I had to do was ask them about such wines. 

I certainly wan't expecting a secret wine list at this restaurant, and it wasn't an actual printed list. Instead, I spoke to the server, telling him what type of wines I liked, as well as a price range, and he brought out a couple of choices, including a delicious Portuguese wine which I selected. If I didn't want either of the two wines he brought out, I suspected he would have brought more choices. These two wines were definitely much more interesting than what was on their ordinary wine list. And the wine made our dining experience even better. 

Maybe I need to ask more often about "secret" wine lists at the restaurants where I dine. It's a simple question to ask and it could lead to surprising vinous pleasures. 

Do you know of any restaurants with secret wine lists? Do any restaurants want to tell us about their own secret wine lists?

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