|Rainbow over the Tanaro|
A few hours later he texted me. “I called the owner over, complimented them on the food. Said I won’t come back on (account of) the wine list. There are many great Italian wines in the $40-60 range. With entrees at $25, a wine at $100 isn’t a balanced list.”
He then called me to give me the blow-by-blow. The bottom line was the owner asked him which wines he wanted on the list. My friend said it wasn’t a matter of which individual wine; it was a matter of having a better balanced wine list. He remarked to me, in closing, that he didn't think the owner of the restaurant got the message.
I took a look at the list. There were a dozen or so Chardonnays, mostly from Napa and Sonoma. Same with Cabernets. There was an “other white wine” section with five wines, one from Argentina, two from Texas and two from Italy. Two of the wines were Pinot Grigio. The Italian red wine section , there were seven wines, a Chianti under $50, a Super Tuscan blend under $75 and five wines ranging from $130+ to $270+. Clearly the wine list was a disappointment to my friend. But on the restaurant web page, the owners claim to be wine lovers and collectors. Where is the disconnect?
Surely there is no lack of desire from those of us in the trade to try and help them figure this kind of thing out. Maybe they hired a consultant. In any event, I’m not sure who the target audience is. I can't even say (if these folks were to ask me to come over and talk to them about these matters) if they would understand what I would be trying to communicate. It might come off as some indecipherable Sicilian dialect. But that’s probably not going to happen any time soon. Not that I would ever ignore their call.
What I’d like to do, in place of that, is to point them, or anyone interested, to several wine lists around the country where folks have made an outstanding effort at bringing Italian wines to the table with their food. Seeing as I just returned from Northern California let’s start with a new one in Oakland.
|A16 in Oakland is worth the trip for the Sicilian section alone|
I would point them to that restaurant tell them to go there for a weekend and eat and drink and the come back to Texas and make some changes.
|Frasca's heraldic tome makes me want to move to Colorado|
• Crisp & Clean, Light & Lean
• Floral, Aromatic, Exotic
• Full Bodied, Rich & Round
Yes, it is a large list, but that isn’t the point. The issue is about balancing the food with the wines, not cowering to the supposed needs of the local diners. Boulder isn’t any more or less sophisticated than Dallas. But again, the owners have made the commitment to not just talk the talk, but to put it out there on the wine list. And folks come from all over the world to dine at Frasca.
|Il Buco's Vineria makes urban pressures seem more manageable|
What it all boils down to is this: making a commitment to being an ambassador for good tasting wines, whether they be from Italy or California or anywhere in the world. Forget what you think your clients are looking for. They are looking for a good time. They are looking to eat and drink well. They might actually be better traveled than you. They probably aren’t looking to take a 2nd mortgage out on their house to be able to eat and drink in your place. How hard is that to figure out? And yet everyday, folks mortgage their lives to get into the business and start up a place. And then wonder why folks like my friend won’t be coming back. They need to attach a set of ears to their hearts and listen to the music that the wine gods are playing.
It wasn’t easy for Shelly Lindgren and her partners when she started A16 in San Francisco, then a bastion and a shrine to California wine. But that little highway in Southern Italy made a deep impression - they took a leap of faith. In May they opened their third restaurant, the one in Oakland.
And Boulder? Not exactly an urban hub. Very limited population and a seasonal one at that, along with a cash-strapped and transient student population. Now Frasca is a mecca, a draw, another reason to visit Colorado.
And New York? Yes, it is an urban aggregation of unparalleled significance. It is the big league. All the more reason for it to fail, with competition, taxes and unfathomable expenses required to keep the doors open.
|Sotto's exemplary list in LaLa land|
It’s that easy.
written by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog + Italian wine blog + Italy W