Archive for Riesling


Posted in Info on Wine with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by ballymote

Anyone who has ever visited my blog more than once will know my answer to that question. The purpose of this post, though, is to report on an interesting exchange on this topic that took place some time ago on a website called “Chowhound”. Incidently, Chowhound is a great source of information on restaurants in every geographical local in the world. If you are not already familiar with it, I would strongly urge you to check it out and even become a contributor.

Here is the post from Chowhound that inspired this topic. Below it are responses to the original post. It’s something to think about.

Sommelier snobbery – why do 4 star restaurants refuse to list white zinfandel?

Last week, I was at a highly rated restaurant in San Francisco. An elderly woman asked the wine steward if they had white zinfandel.

In a snobbish tone, he said no, they don’t have it on the list, but there were French and German whites that he could suggest. He then brought her tastes of a reisling and a chenin blanc, which she refused, and then ordered a mixed drink. Then she said to her husband quietly: “I just want a smooth, simple, fruity glass of wine…that riesling tasted a bit like oil!”

When I got up to go the restroom later that night, I ran into the wine steward. I asked him about the white zin incident, to which he responded: “No doubt, white zin would sell well here, but I would rather be caught dead than to walk through my dining room and seeing Beringer White Zin all over the place. I don’t want to work in that kind of restaurant. To which I said:

“So you want to work in a restaurant where there is a possibility that your guests aren’t getting what they want because of YOUR preferences?”

He replied: “It’s not just my preferences. It’s my reputation. The wine industry is really close. Word will get out if I put white zin on my list. That is seen as a negative when I look for my next job.”

To that response, I let out a painful laugh. Because I realized that this “Sommelier Snobbery” is the standard. And that there are probably tons of guests at the nicest restaurants around the world who are doing the same thing.

Aren’t restaurants in the hospitality industry, after all?

and the replies:

“Lots of people started their wine odyssey with White Zin or, if you’re older, Mateus Rose. Nothing wrong with it, but IS kind of like ordering a Ballpark Frank at Le Bernardin. I think the issue is that restaurants can’t, and shouldn’t be all things to all people.”

“I was going to say something similar. I don’t expect Gary Danko to put fried chicken on the menu just because a few customers might prefer it.

This restaurant has a finite amount of space in their cellar. If they put a white Zin on the wine list, they would have to take off a vintage BdB, say.

Some Italian restaurants use a 100% Italian list. Would they sell CA Cabs if they were on the list? Sure. But lists reflect the restaurant.”

“No problem with what the restaurant or sommelier did here. The restaurant’s food, wine, ambience, price, etc, are all targeting a specific market or customer profile. That is their choice. Our choice as consumers is to decide whether a particular place is for us.

The sommelier acted professionally trying to find a substitute. And gave a plausible reason for not carrying white zin.”

“Just a heads up to anyone who might be taking Grandma to The French Laundry. I really thought this might be possible (given their extreme service level), so I checked. According to their head sommelier they DO NOT offer White Zin, even on request. They have had Bandol and Sancerre Rosé by-the-glass, and other sweeter wines on their bottle list. He’s not there 100% of the time, but he said he didn’t recall any requests for it either.

I personally think that White Zin is certainly a legitimate wine choice for someone who enjoys it. I also think that it would be out of context for a high-end restaurant (where dinner is $240 a person) to carry a wine that retails for $8, which is about the top end for White Zin. I don’t think they serve Bud Light either.”

One of the things I learned from the replies on Chowhound is that White Zin drinkers, in tests by many marketing firms, have been found to be the most loyal to a brand people of any product on the market. Defenders of the white zin fanatics have often said that they will soon discover other wines and white zin will be the reason they got started. Apparently, and understandably, this isn’t true. White zin is manipulated in such a way to create a sweetness that can’t be duplicated in other wines. Once they develop this need for “sweetness” in wine there is virtually nothing to take its place. The wine world offers Sauternes and certain Rieslings and other dessert wines but they just don’t have that “sugar” component that White Zin lovers desire.

Personally, I think White Zinfandel should be removed from the world of wine and redefined under a category called “other beverages made from grapes”. Then, anyone who wanted to order it could do so as long as they understood they had not ordered wine. Anyway, it makes for good controversy



Posted in Info on Wine, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by ballymote

thanksgivingIt’s less than three weeks now until families all across South Jersey will be sitting down at dining room tables to give thanks for all their blessings and partake in a feast of holiday foods. In a lot of homes there will be turkeys and hams or both, with all of the trimmings. It’s a time when wine goes perfectly with dinner;when even those who seldom have a glass of wine will be drinking to celebrate the occasion. It’s not too soon to start thinking about what wines go best with the foods that will grace your table. I tend to think about wine on Thanksgiving as two different sessions.

First, I want a wine that is just fun to sip while watching the early football games. Something that drinks well by itself or with a few pre-dinner appetizers passed around the room.IMG_3650 To fill this scenario I would go with a nice Australian shiraz or one of the now popular Argentinian malbecs. Both of these wines offer tons of flavor and don’t need foods. In fact, these wines would perhaps overpower the main course and are not suggested for the dinner table. Here are four possible choices that most people would totally enjoy while munching on cheese or veggies and a nice dip with one eye on the football game. Left to right they are the 2008 Pillar Box Reserve Shiraz ($19.99), the 2008 Mollydooker “The Boxer” Shiraz ($24.99), the 2007 Patagonia Malbec Barrel Selection Fabre Montmayou  ($12.99) and the 2008 Kaiken “Ultra” Malbec ($14.99). None of these wines will put a heavy strain on your budget and all of them are drinking nicely right now. Once it’s time for the dinner feast, it’s time to put down these heavier wines and switch toward something a little lighter that will compliment the vast array of culinary treats spread across the dining room tableIMG_3652. Finding the right wines for turkey and ham is not always an easy task. Some feel that only white wines can work with these two meats. For white wine lovers I would suggest something similar to what we have here. On the left is the 2008 Monchoff “Robert Eymael” Riesling ($13.99), slightly sweet without being overpowering with bright citrus fruits and a hint of minerality. If you don’t care for red wine this will serve nicely throughout the meal. Another white choice is the second wine shown, the 2007 St. Urbans-Hof, Ockfener Bockstein, Riesling Spatlese($17.99) just a tad sweeter than the Monchoff with many of the same apple and peach notes that give the wine its unique taste. Although, I will have some of the whites, I still prefer finding a red that isn’t too strong that will go perfectly with the meal. For myself, a nice Oregon Pinot Noir serves the bill extremely well and the two pictured here are both tasty and affordable. As I have mentioned in previous posts on this blog, good Pinot Noir often costs somewhere north of $30.00 and often far north. Both the 2007 Owen Roe ($18.00) and the 2007 A to Z are ($18.99) available for under $20.00 and both are great with fish or fowl.

thanksgiving 2Regardless of your wine choices, Thanksgiving is an awesome time to get together with family and share a few bottles of something and give thanks that we can all be together to enjoy each others company while remembering family members who are no longer with us.  May each of you find peace and love on this special day.