Iconic or edgy? Developing a wine list with the new gen in mind
Among the social media sites I visit on a regular basis is a recent post from the much-respected wine writer Alfonso Cevola, who takes to task new-gen wine directors who Cevola accuses of ignoring “iconic and traditional” wines and “developing (a) blind spot for classic wines like Chianti Classico and Pauillac” in favor of building “labyrinthine” wine lists based on “edginess” and “coolness.”
“I want a wine list that doesn’t take so much effort to choose from, so that I can get on to the real reason for the evening. The getting together and the sharing of a meal,” writes Cevola on his blog, “On the Wine Trail in Italy.”
“It’s as if those wines, that have been venerated by generations of wine lovers and sommeliers, are being eradicated from the lexicon of wines once considered revered and, even more important, essential,” Cevola writes.
Among his fears is that by ignoring or dropping the classic Bordeaux, Tuscans and others, wine lists begin to look alike and, worse, customers aren’t exposed to those wines.
In response, Thomas Moësse, wine director at Houston’s Divino Italian restaurant, says, “If buyers are foregoing the classics on their lists, maybe it is because they are advocates for their guest first and foremost — both are being left behind by exponential pricing increases and the corresponding unattainability of those vins de garde.”
Gone, said Moësse, is the time when clients asked “what kind of Italian restaurant doesn’t have Tignanello?”
Today, somms and wine directors regularly field queries such as “what will go best with our food?” Moësse writes in a guest appearance on Jeremy Parzens blog, Do Bianchi. “Today’s consumer is not scanning a wine list for producers they recognize so much as they want some help with a discovery. Our job as wine service professionals is part curation and consultation.”
Which sounds as if Moësse is saying today’s younger wine drinkers aren’t tied to the “classic” and “traditional” way of selecting a wine. Lengthy wine lists put more importance on the individual roles of diner – knowing when to ask for help in finding a wine, as well as the role of the waiter/somm – being able to provide the right answer.
What’s your preference? Smaller lists with traditional producers or something offering “the bounty of wines” coming from around the world?