In our hometown, two restaurants that face each other across a main street have entirely different philosophies about their wine menus. One has an all-California wine list, which is large and impressive but limited by the range of styles that California produces. The other has a collection of wines from around the world.
The quality of food in both restaurants is quite good, but we go to the restaurant with the global wine list much more frequently because we are intrigued by their selections.
Offering a diverse wine list in your restaurant can help keep your customers—especially repeat customers—interested and can pique their curiosity with wines they might not have tasted, or even heard of.
Of course, some diners prefer “safe” choices in wines, such as Chardonnay or Merlot, but many younger consumers in particular want to try something new.
A wine list offering unusual selections and a wide choice of styles indicates that the restaurant is putting energy into its wine menu and shows that management cares about its customers’ interests.
Often, the cuisine drives the decision to diversify wine lists. Most nonethnic restaurants in the United States present dishes inspired by international flavors. Such cuisine calls for a diverse wine list of reds, whites and rosés from all over the world.
During our travels, we have been noting an increase in certain types of wines on wine lists. Here are some hot picks from innovative wine lists to help you diversify your own:
Washington state: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah
Long Island and Finger Lakes, N.Y.: Riesling and Gewürztraminer
Chile: Carmenère, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah
Austria: Grüner Veltliner, Riesling
France: Alsace Riesling and Pinot Blanc; Loire Valley Chinon, Bourgueil, Vouvray, Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Savennières; less-expensive red and white Burgundies, such as Mercurey and Saint-Véran; Chablis; less-expensive red Bordeaux, such as Côtes de Bourg; Côtes du Rhone
WINE OF THE WEEK 2005 Vietti Barbera d’Asti, Tre Vigne (Piedmont, Italy) One of Italy’s most unusual wines. Its delicious, tart cherry fruit, high acidity and low tannin make it a perfect companion for many foods, especially tomato-based. Perfect to drink now, but it will age well for several years. Wholesale price per one case of 6, $80.
2005 Vietti Barbera d’Asti, Tre Vigne (Piedmont, Italy)
One of Italy’s most unusual wines. Its delicious, tart cherry fruit, high acidity and low tannin make it a perfect companion for many foods, especially tomato-based. Perfect to drink now, but it will age well for several years.
Wholesale price per one case of 6, $80.
Italy: Barbera and Dolcetto; Chianti, Rosso di Montalcino, Vermentino and Maremma reds; Soave; Prosecco; Alto Adige whites, such as Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Sylvaner, Kerner, and reds, such as Lagrein; Friuli whites, such as Pinot Grigio, Tocai Frulano; Verdicchio and Rosso Cònero, Rosso Piceno; Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, and Abruzzo whites, such as Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Pigato; Sagrantino di Montefalco; Taurasi and Campania’s three hot whites, Falanghina, Greco and Fiano
Spain: Albariño and reds from Toro and Bierzo
Portugal: Douro Valley red wines
New Zealand: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, especially from Central Otago
South Africa: Chenin Blanc and Pinotage
We encourage wine buyers to try balancing their wine lists with these or similar diverse wines according to the restaurant’s cuisine. We bet that wine sales will increase.