I started this blog one year ago. The purpose was to educate and inform friends and local wine lovers about the food and wine scene in Sarasota County. I’ve learned a lot in that year and met some very interesting people. I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy some wonderful meals and consume some great wines. I’ve also dined in some very mediocre places and met or failed to meet some very ignorant wine buyers. That’s how research is done. I hope that my analyses of wines, stores, and restaurants have been helpful.
The major drawback I see to enjoying wine in Sarasota County restaurants is the lack of knowledge and commitment of their wine buyers. Often there is no specific wine buyer, and the owner creates the wine list with the assistance of a salesperson. That’s why so many wine lists are similar, limited, and the choices usually boil down to wines like William Hill because it’s a known quantity. Obviously there are exceptions such as Michaels on East, Pier 22, the Crow’s Nest, Roesslers, Marina Jack , Vino Loco, Beach Road Bistro, and Lazy Lobster. With few exceptions, the better the wine list, the better the food.
Wine shops are another story. Sarasota County is fortunate to have great retail wine advisors like Sean King at Michaels Wine Cellar, Thomas Morgan at Seagrape, Mark Montalbano at ABC Venice, Bill Herlihy at Island Time, and Joyce Colmer at Vino Loco. Their in store tastings provide great opportunities to sample new wines and connect with other wine groupies.
A great benefit of wine service in this area is the ability to sample a wine-by-the-glass before purchase. I have found it to be even more exciting to compare two similar glass offerings before purchase. Another great benefit is the pricing of four glasses to be greater than the same bottle price. It encourages you to purchase a bottle rather than a glass to share with your guest(s).
Other than the reluctance of restaurant owners to become involved and create a great wine list, the lack of server training ranks high on my list of concerns. It’s a shame that many servers who wish to know more about wine have little opportunity. This is a real loss in profits for the establishment and a turn off for diners. Something I will concentrate on in the coming year.There are many restaurants and stores I have yet to visit. Let’s see what the next year brings.