Category Archives: Wine Lists

Oct 10 2010

Weekend Wine Reading

Posted on October 10, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Some of the best winemakers in the world are now using biodynamic practices in their farming and winemaking. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about the practice and its effect on the taste the wines, take a look at these two articles:

A Taste of Biodynamics by William Lyons, The Wall Street Journal, 28 July 2010 and Cultivating a Cult Cabernet: Bart and Daphne Araujo use hands-on techniques to craft wines with more subtlety than many Napa fruit bombs by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal, 24 September 2010

As a follow-up to my blog post What Makes a Good Wine List?, I thought you may enjoy this article by Gregory Dal Piaz, Restaurant Wine Lists: 5 Tips for Ordering Like a Pro, Snooth, 27 September 2010.

Winedoctor by Chris Kissack is a a really excellent source of information about French wine, especially Bordeaux and the Loire Vallery. In yesterday’s post, Langton’s Updates Its Classification of Australian Wine, 30 September 2010, I briefly mentioned the 1855 Bordeaux Medoc Classification. Winedoctor has a very interesting article about the history of the Medoc Classification and a list of the chateaux in each of the 5 growths categories: Medoc 1855 Classification.

Hope you get to enjoy some great wine over this long weekend. I certainly intend to!  I’m leaving tomorrow for a week in Noosa, which incidentally has a lot of great restaurants and even a few that allow you to BYO! Back on the 11th! Have a great weekend.

Photo: Château Fonroque Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé.  Owner and winemaker Alan Moueix converted his vineyards in St Emilion to biodynamic in 2002.

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Sep 09 2010

What makes a Good Wine List?

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, Building a Better Wine List, 7 August 2010, wine writer Lettie Teague discussed the surprising lack of consensus around the best way to present a restaurant wine list. Some restaurants list their wine according to country of origin, others groups the wines according to the standard varietals or simply colour, eg. red, white, rose. Sometimes wines are listed according to intensity, eg. light, medium, full bodied etc. or texture and aroma, eg. lush or floral, and occasionally emotion comes into play, eg. “intense and brooding.”

So, “which kind truly serves diners best?” Teague asks. If you’re reading this post or have already clicked on the link to Teague’s article, you’re probably the one who is usually given the task of choosing the wine! Invariably, I often find myself in that position, and if none of the names on the list look familiar, I call on the waiter for his or her advice!

Nothing wrong with that according to Teague. She argues that an enthusiastic and knowledgeable waiter or sommelier is just as important as an engaging wine list when it comes to selling restaurant wine. But surely we could all benefit from a few well thought out guidelines about how to present a wine list.

Here are Teague’s suggestions:

  • Geography-focused wine lists should contain maps. (If a place is important, then show it)
  • Varietal-focused wine lists should come with descriptors of the grapes. (What does a Coda di Volpe taste like, anyway?)
  • Descriptive wine lists should be limited to flavors and textures. (And those flavors and textures should be universal—words like crisp, fruity and oaky tend to be widely understood.)
  • A passionate sommelier is terrific—but better in person than on the page. (Emotional excess can annoy as much as appeal.)
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