Understanding a Restaurant Wine List How to Buy Wine Comfortably
Weekly Schedule Week 2- Understanding a restaurant wine list, how to buy wine comfortably Week 3- The process of making wine and champagne Week 4- Understanding France (Burgundy and Bordeaux) Week 5- Discovering the treasured wines of Italy Week 6- Wine and food pairing
Review of Week 1 Integration Expressiveness Complexity Connectedness Alcohol Acid Tannin Fruitiness Sweetness and Dry
Things to Remember When Shopping for Wine What is my purpose- determine what your goal is. Will you be pairing the wine with food or enjoying it on its own. What is my price point- know how much you want to spend, once you get into the store it’s easy to get confused and walk out spending more. Determine grape varietal- what do you like reds or white. Come with an open mind- there is no better way to learn than to try new wines. Don’t be intimidated to ask a wine associate for their favorite wine at your price point. May times they will be thrilled to share their favorites with you.
Things to avoid When Shopping for wine Don’t shop by price, more expensive wine does not always mean a superior taste. In addition to inexpensive wine, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a wine with depth and quality. Don’t shop by label, just because the label is colorful does not mean the wine follows suite. Shelf talkers are helpful but not always reliable. Make sure the vintage on the bottle matches up with the vintage on the shelf talker. Don’t be “sucked in” by promotions. They are wonderful ways to get customers in the door, but normally mean the store bought more product then they can sell.
Secrets to Know When Shopping You will never know the details of ever wine, so stop panicking! New World Wines tend to be palate pleasers and great value wines. I recommend trying wines from Chili, Argentina, and South Africa. Try blends, they tend to have a softer finish and fantastic flavor. If you like a certain grape varietal (Pinot Noir) try it from different regions. This is a great way to discover different wine regions while staying in the safety zone of what you like. Wine ratings are very helpful, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, and Wine Spectator are your three best references. Any wine that is rated 89 and above is a great choice. Know your wine label, there is no reason to guess at what is in the bottle you are taking home.
Labels Name of the wine Vintage Grape varietal Producer Appellation Alcohol content Bottle size Importer
American Labels California/Washington State- If you see the state name on a wine label, it means 75- 100% of the grapes were grown in the state (California is an exception at 100%). Napa/ Sonoma- If the county name is used at least 75% of the grapes must be grown in any part of Napa, Sonoma. AVA- If you see Rutherford or Alexander Valley this means 85% of the grapes were grown with in the sub-region. Example: Within Napa valley there are 15 AVA’s 43,000 acres. Estate Bottled- Means 100% of the grapes were grown in the winery’s own vineyard. Or from vineyards owned by the winery in the same appellation. This also means the wines must be vinified and bottled at the winery as well. Meritage- Is a Bordeaux blend out of America, containing (Cab Sau, Cab Fra, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot). Red Blend- Is an assortment of red grapes blended together, it will not specify amount or varietals. Old Vines- This indicates the grapes were taken from older, more mature vines, which in turn is a more distinct flavor and aromas.
French Labels VDQS- Wines of Superior Quality (Vin Délimités de QualitéSupérieure) AOC- Appellation of Controlled (OriginVinsd’Appellationd’OrigineContrôlée) Cru- This wine is of superior taste and quality Vins de table- Table wine Vins de Pays- County wine Premier cru classé- Status refers to a classification of wines primarily from the Bordeaux region Premier cru supérieur- Status refers to a classification of wines primarily from the Bordeaux region Premier grand cru classé- The highest category for French wines classified in the APPELLATION of SAINT- ÉMILION
Italian Labels DOCG- DenominazionediOrigineControllataeGarantita (guaranteed place name) DOC- DenominazionediOrigineControllata (protected place name) GIT- IndicazioneGeograficaTipica (Typical place name) Vini ditavola- Table wine Classico- Is a term reserved for wines produced in the region of Italy Chianti- A region in Tuscany Italy (Chianti must use 75-100% Sangiovese) Chianti Classico- A sub region of Chianti Reserva- A Chianti wine that has been aged 38 months instead of the normal 4-7.
Spanish Labels Do- Denominación de Origen (Denomination of Origin) DOC- Denominación de Origen Calificada (Denomination of Qualified Origin) Gran Reserva- Aged a minimum of 5 years Reserva- Aged a minimum of 3 years Crianza- Aged a minimum of 2 years
Restaurant Etiquette BYOB- It is always better to call the restaurant before showing up with your own bottle of wine. Restaurants will charge a corking-fee, range from $10-50 per bottle. Many restaurants will limit you to; 2-750 ml bottles of wine, or one magnum, which equals two bottles. Do not bring in an inexpensive or commonly found bottle of wine into the restaurant. Do not bring in a wine from home that is on the restaurants wine list. Make sure the price tag is removed When the server offers you the first glass of wine to try, it is not to determine whether you like it or not, it’s to assure its not spoiled or vinegar. You will always tip the server, as if you had ordered the bottle from them, your server is still performing the same job. Offer the Sommelier or Wine Steward a small sample, especially if you have brought a very special wine. This is common restaurant courtesy.
Ordering in a Restaurant Have an idea of what you will be eating for your entree. If you plan on having 3 or more glasses of wine, order a bottle, you will get better quality wine and a better value. Be careful when ordering by the glass, these wines may have been opened and sitting for 3 days before selling. They can be oxidized and flabby. Be prepared, the mark up in a restaurant is 2-3 times more expensive than in a local wine store. If you do not want to spend as much, go for a wine that is not as well known, they tend to be less expensive, yet still of great quality. If you are still having trouble ordering a wine, look to the prices of the wine. A wine in the middle range will offer good quality for a decent price.
Wine Lists Most restaurants start with wines by the glass and half bottles. If you are a winery and your wine is being served by the glass in a restaurant, “you have made it to the top” in the wine field. The layout most commonly seen on a wine lists, will be categorized by Country (France or Italy), by color (Red or White) by style (medium or full bodied) and by grape varietal. Within a wine list, the restaurant will list the wines from lightest to heaviest both, in terms of body and flavor. Most wine lists include the producer, the region, the grape type, the year, and of course, the price of the wine. Some will even go as far as offering a brief description, or occasionally, a suggested food pairing.
Wine List Check out Café Maxx’s wine list for examples http://www.cafemaxx.com/menus/winelist.pdf
Tasting Selection 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, ZafrikaWester Cape NV Marques De Aldaz, Rose Navarra 2009 Zinfandel Paradise Sound, Lodi 2006 Merlot Kenneth Schilling Cellars, Russian River Valley 2009 MalbecBodagaSeptima, Mendoza 2009 WeinhausSchloss Koblenz, EisweinRheinhessan
The 4 S’s of Tasting See- You are looking for shades of color. White wines get darker as they age, red wines get lighter. The darker the wine, does not mean the more intense the flavor, it will have to do with varietal and age. Swirl- Swirling creates tiny air currents in the nose/bouquet that carry aroma molecules up to the nerve receptors and ultimately to the brain. Sniff- The nose fatigues quickly in about 6 seconds. The nose can distinguish thousands of smells, it’s one of your most powerful tools. Take short inhales. While breathing look at the aroma chart to discern aromas you may detect in the wine. Sip- The first sip is not reliable, take another. When tasting we look for aroma, body/texture (light, medium, full) flavor, and finish.
Homework A great way to keep track of the wines we taste is by keeping a notebook or wine journal. Make it your own, by writing your own personal notes about the wines you tasted. Familiarize yourself with local and imported wine labels. This is going to help you so much in a wine store and in a restaurant. South America offers wonderful value wines. I want you to find a red wine from Chili and a white wine from Argentina. Spending no more then $10 for each bottle. Bring in your tasting notes for each to share with your fellow class mates.