Behind the Scenes: Restaurant Wine Lists
For the last seven years, I’ve worked in European-themed restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip as a food server and/or a sommelier. The majority of wine lists in these restaurants are designed to feature wines that are indigenous to the country or area the cuisine in that particular restaurant focuses on, meaning they grow there and probably not anywhere else. Any enthusiast, educator, or prominent figure in my industry will tell you how much they enjoy trying these weird varietals from around the world – they’re as delicious as they are ambitious and we get a kick out of sharing them with guests who might not otherwise dare to deviate from their standard Merlot or Malbec.
But that’s also the real challenge: guest perception. When you’re about to spend $30 or $40 on a bottle of wine (or 5-10 times that in a Vegas restaurant, easily), you want to be confident in the bottle you’ve chosen. That’s not easy for a guest who opens up a Italian, French, or Spanish wine list that ends up looking at a blur of scattered letters thrown up all across the page. No bueno.
Expanding Your Horizons with New Wine Recommendations
Instead of becoming frantic and wildly looking around while muttering, “Where’s my Pinot Noir?” or “No Chardonnay?!” or even worse, “I think I’ll order a cocktail instead!” give something else a try – or should I say someONE else.
Your friendly neighborhood sommelier is there to help. That’s our job, to help you find something delicious to drink. If your favorite white or red wine is not on the menu, don’t panic. Let your somm – or in the case, your weekly Wine Craft – take a few ideas of what you might normally drink and suggest a little wine swap. You never know, you just might discover something you like…
- If you like Champagnes, try Althe’a Prosecco Brut – $20: BUY ME
- If you like Rieslings, try Patient Cottat Le Grand Caillou Chenin Blanc 2013 – $14: BUY ME
- If you like Sauvignon Blancs, try a Do Ferreiro Albarino 2014 – $26: BUY ME
- If you like Chardonnays, try a Hugel Gewurtztraminer 2012 – $24: BUY ME
- If you like Pinot Noirs, try a Aldo Contorno Barbera d’Alba – $32: BUY ME
- If you like Syrahs, try a Caprazo Brunello di Montalcino 2011 – $35: BUY ME
- If you like Merlots, try an Artadi Tempranillo 2014 – $22: BUY ME
- If you like Petit Sirahs, try a Luca Malbec 2013 – $29: BUY ME
- If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, then try a Paolo Scavino Langhe Nebbiolo 2013 – $28: BUY ME
Mario Luna is a Certified Sommelier and owner of Mario Luna Somm, a company that produces online wine courses, blogs, and other user-friendly content full of information perfect for the everyday wine drinker. He lives in Las Vegas where, in addition to working on the famous Las Vegas Strip, he serves as a consultant for large-scale wine events, specialty shops, and all kinds of wine tastings. You can contact Mario at his website or check out his courses here.