A revolution in the wine list is coming–ready or not! Visit a restaurant in New York or London or San Francisco and see a high tilt of wine lists with all of the usual suspects (wine regions) in overwhelming ratios compared to the non-usual suspects (lesser known wine regions).
French wines have had a predominance in what has been a sommelier or wine director created wine list—there is no doubt that there are many excellent and dazzling wines coming from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and The Rhône and these are often what are listed first and take bulk of real estate on many lists. International wines / varieties are in many ways have been treated as the basis of all wines or only those wines good enough for a wine list. And that basis is what are international wines have been promoted to in creating the highest perceived pedigree. In many ways, the common parlance for certain French wine regions is ‘international wines’ as opposed to all varieties as being thought of as international.
Look at Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley and you will often find prominent placements on many a wine list especially in the US. Look at El Dorado County and Zinfandel on a wine list in Boston and it is much more difficult to find–findable? yes, common–no.
The wines of regions widely known trade (sell) because of a familiarity by people seeking buzz candy or what I call ‘social pizza’: As opposed to wines that are coming from lesser-known regions take a long time to gain traction and a consistent listing in a restaurant or a wine merchants shelf. And this is perpetuating–because the lesser-known regions are hard to find many people go back to what is plentiful and easy-to-find. And this cycle is hard for a lesser known variety or region to get a foothold.
But today’s consumer is asking for Croatian wine with their pizza, Chianti Classico with Portuguese food, Indian food with Australian Grenache. I am not suggesting that, for example, Italian restaurants are going to give up Italian wines on their lists. But I do think there is going to be a greater supplementing of either nearby wine regions or varieties that are perfectly in step with their restaurant’s chief mission. Today’s wine consumer does not view buying wine like buying toilet paper as a certain wine buyer in Washington State would like everyone to believe. Consumers are seeking to know more about wine and creating their definitive interests and tastes.
There are a few bold restaurant wine lists that provide a great portfolio of diverse varieties, regions, producers and have a trained staff that are knowledgeable about lesser known wines and can speak to them. While not common today this will be increasing common tomorrow.
New wines lovers and wine enthusiasts seeking variety are going to challenge the convention and even seek out their current discovers and make the ask at their favourite restaurant or wine merchant. I think over time such wine trends in wine will lessen–that is consumers will either seek what they enjoy the most and the more adventurous wine consumers will continue to seek discovery.
Lesser known wine regions that will benefit from increased consumer focus and demand–as example: France: Alsace, Spain: Rias Baixas or Italy: Puglia. And these lesser known regions are increasingly organized and presenting their wines to potentially new customers consistently. The treasure trove of great wines is here and now. We live in the best of wine times, no other time has there been greater quality, diversity in style and availability. Wine list diversity is coming whether anyone is prepared or not. Diversity is the spice of life and a great focus on balance and representing lesser-known wine producing nations and regions will continue over time. The consumer is already demanding this.
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
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