Thursday, July 24, 2008

New WS Poll on Wine Service

I have often complained about the pricing, storage and other aspects of restaurant wine service. Apparently, I have plenty of company.

A poll in the latest issue of Wine Spectator (Aug. 31) issues “a wake-up call to restauranteurs and sommeliers.” According to the WS article:

Our (survey) respondents are serious about wine, but they are disappointed by the wine service they receive in restaurants.

In their experience, sommeliers are too often under-educated and over-opinionated, pushing wines because of personal preference or higher markups. Often wine-savvy themselves, these customers simply don’t trust their server’s advice.

. . . An overwhelming 93 percent (of survey respondents) declared that the quality of a wine list was very (47 percent) or somewhat (46 percent) important when choosing a restaurant.

. . . While 52 percent prefer to see 100 or fewer selections on a list, just 3 percent want more than 500 selections. Diversity rather than size is key for many . . .

This latter finding is in sync with my own feelings. I get the sense that some restaurants want to impress you by providing you with a wine list that's absolutely over-the-top exhaustive. But I'm not interested in browsing through a list that's nearly as thick as the local yellow pages.

A classy restaurant should provide diverse choices without overwhelming the diner. Even in the case of an Italian restaurant, what's the point of offering more than four different bottles of Amarone della Valpolicella?

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