What Is an Attractive Restaurant Wine List?


An engaging wine list doesn't overwhelm with options. A few well-chosen global varieties will draw in discerning guests.

An engaging wine list doesn't overwhelm with options. A few well-chosen global varieties will draw in discerning guests.

Many American restaurants show a great selection of California wines on their menus. Perhaps you or your restaurant manager may want to add just a few classics from other regions—they can be important to upscale guests who look for global variety

An increasing number of consumers specifically choose a restaurant for its capability to hold their continued attention by offering a wine selection that makes every repeat visit a new adventure.

We believe that one of the best and quickest way for consumers to learn about the key grapes of the world is to source wines from their original (and usually best) growing regions. Restaurants are recognizing this trend, and create exciting wine lists that assist with building customer loyalty.

Here is a list of the major white and red grapes of the world and their best appellations that should have space on every good restaurant wine menu.

Five of the Distinctive Red Grapes:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Margaux, Bordeaux, France (also good: Chile, Italy, USA, South Africa).
  • Pinot Noir: Burgundy, France (also grows well in Marlborough, New Zealand and Oregon, USA).
  • Syrah: Crozes Hermitage or Cote Rotie, Northern Rhone, France (Australia makes a warmer and more bombastic Syrah, which is called Shiraz there).
  • Nebbiolo: Barolo, Piemonte, Italy (the grape is not known to be expressive anywhere outside Piemonte).
  • Sangiovese: Chianto Classico, Tuscany, Italy (not authentic anywhere else).

The Three Main White Noble Varietals:

  • Riesling: Mosel, Germany and Alsace, France (Mosel for sweet, Alsace for dry—other regions lack clarity of typical attributes).
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Sancerre, Loire, France (a more amplified grapefruit flavor shows in Marlborough, New Zealand; American Sauvignon Blanc usually misses the citric clarity of the French original).
  • Chardonnay: Chablis and Burgundy, France, as well as Napa Valley, California.

There are close to 10,000 different wine grapes in the world. Most of them don't reach distinguished and consistent flavors, and therefore are not essential to the wine list.

An overwhelming abundance of menu items is actually not helpful when learning about the essential knowledge needed to enjoy this hobby. With a wine list of American classics, plus the important selections listed above, restaurateurs are well positioned for repeat dining guests who are looking for a wholesome wine and dinner experience.

The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.

Jörn Kleinhans

Sommelier Jörn Kleinhans is a certified specialist of wine and the owner of the Wine Elite Sommelier Company. The Wine Elite Sommelier Company is a nationwide consumer resource for sommelier-guided wine tasting experiences, education, public speaking, and wine expertise. For details, visit www.WineElite.org.

Add new comment