Wine, like other super subjective things, is prone to the ebb and flow of popularity. I’ve asked a few good wine friends to chime in with some of their observations on the ever-evolving wine list.
Shorter more focused lists.
As chefs are working to pare down their menus to focus on ever more worldly flavor profiles with fewer ingredients, so to our sommeliers create lists where every wine has a reason to be there. In a restaurant, it is paramount that the wines enrich the food. London based Sommelier, International Wine Challenge Judge, Master of Wine candidate, and F-ing great taster, Orsi Szentkiralyi, told me of some of the best advice ever given to her when creating a wine list, “Create a great list, then cut it in half” this ensures every wine has a purpose. Creatively frustrating at times but it takes more skill to create a small focused list than it does to create an encyclopedia.
Changing of the guard. Where some wine regions around the world held sway for so many years, others are quickly gaining popularity and beginning to appear on wine lists around the globe.
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has long been the undisputed queen of elevated acidity and the house party, ‘I-don’t-know-anyone-there-so-I’ll-bring-Sauvignon-Blanc’ versatility.
But there is a coup coming, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, known simply as Sancerre, has long been a darling of the oenophile and is poised to increase its wine list market share notes New York-based Sommelier and recipient of Food and Wine Magazine’s Sommelier of the Year (2017), Arthur Hon. This Marlborough versus Sancerre debate is the sommelier’s version of the Nikki or Cardi conversation that creeps into social situations. Delicious drama.
Rosé is quickly becoming less and less tied to seasonality.
Rosé’s prominence and placement. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like it, and if I did, I don’t think I would like them.
It used to be that you could only find a decent selection of rosé only during the summer months but now, more restaurants and wine bars are listing them year round, hallelujah. Along with being more available, the color is one that new world winegrowers are paying particular attention to. On a recent trip to New Zealand, every winegrower I met who produced a rosé wanted candid feedback and opinions on the color of their juice. The dark, saturated Franzia-esque hue of rosé is no bueno and new world producers are working hard to catch up. Thank God.
Natural wines place on lists.
There is so much energy behind the advocacy of this style of winemaking. More and more frequently I see “natural” wines appearing on lists. My hope with the listing of these wines is that, some way we educate the consumer on what to expect. There’s a lot of confusion about wine in general that we don’t want to create any more. Arthur Hon made a great point about even using the term, “natural” to describe these wines, this implies that all others are “unnatural”. I agree with him that this has a negative connotation and could further confuse the general public. What about using the term, “minimal” or “latchkey”?
Whether drinking sauvignon blanc, rosé or latchkey wine (I kinda like the sound of that) at least you’re drinking wine. I look forward to continuing seeing lists evolve, winegrowers paying attention to what the market wants and Sommeliers pay homage to the skill of our chefs. #CardiB