Wine List from Hell

Helen Rosner is a food writer for The New Yorker Magazine. She visited a restaurant and could not decipher any wine or even intelligently discuss which one to purchase. Obviously things have gone too far. I somehow sense this is the work of a somm (sommelier) that totally fails to understand his/her purpose. How many wines can you identify? I only found three but was not aware of the producers.

My problems with somms goes back a long way. First of all, I am not impressed by those who abbreviate their title and refer to wines as “burgs” and “cabs”. Supposedly these wine stewards took extensive training in wine and yet resort to treating them like afterthoughts.

Second, my experience has shown that many talk their way into positions and create wine lists that feature exotic and limited production items. They shun established brands and consequently make it difficult for customers to order.  This usually results in less profit for the restaurant owner and the somm moves on leaving a hoard of wines that have not sold and are not getting any better.

Some sommeliers even import their own wines and theie inventory becomes the wine list with. It isn’t hard to figure out what they will recommend.

Most galling of all is their inability to properly balance wine with cuisine. A post in a recent Wine Business Monthly by a respected somm described how he discusses wine with customers. His purpose is to find the style of wine the customer likes not the best wine to balance the meal.  It’s nice in Florida that most restaurants will offer a taste of a wine for evaluation. That takes most of the guesswork out of the process. I have found very few sommeliers who do that.



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