Ah, the wine list.
For many years, fine-dining restaurants that took wine seriously would publish their wine lists in leather-bound books. It was a very classy presentation… not to mention a sure sign that you’d be paying a lot of money for whatever bottle you ultimately selected.
The lists usually were divided into three sections: Champagne (or sparkling), Red and White. The Red and White sections would be sub-divided either by wine region or wine type. Ethnic restaurants typically embraced the former, as it made sense for a French restaurant to showcase French wines, or an Italian restaurant to shine the spotlight on Italian bottlings.
Dessert wines sometimes would be included in the large bound volumes, but more often would be described on a separate printout that more closely resembled the dinner menu in size.
Today, the trend is away from printed volumes and toward “electronic” lists that can be shared with diners on iPads or similar devices.
Restaurateurs are getting more creative with how they organize their lists as well. They know that savvy diners are looking for sublime wine pairings to enhance their meals, so some are including specific bottle recommendations alongside descriptions of specific dishes. That’s a great idea, particularly for diners who may be intimidated by those voluminous lists.
At a restaurant called Husk in Charleston, S.C., the creative wine list is presented not by varietal or even by country, but rather by terroir and soil type.
The categories include “Slate” (which, as the menu states, often gives wine a “flinty” flavor), “Clay,” “Limestone,” “Primary Rock” and “Volcanic.”
Flavor descriptions that accompany each wine listing help diners with food pairing.
You can check out this latest take on the restaurant wine list here (www.huskrestaurant.com).
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How do you prefer restaurant wine lists to be organized? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.