Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt

It's places like this that make me wish I were a beer drinker

Last Friday night, I was fortunate enough to eat at The Kensington Grill, a swank restaurant over in Kensington, which is an affluent neighborhood a couple of neighborhoods over from the one in which I live. However, I have to fess up here: sometimes seeing the wine list is enough to make me want to leave a restaurant immediately. Why? Well, it's complicated, but there are a few things that really annoy me when I happen across them in restaurants.

One: Wine drinkers may largely be middle-class pretentious types such as myself, sure, but that doesn't mean that we enjoy ridiculous markups. When I see an $8 bottle of a good wine like Yalumba Y Series Viognier selling for $8.50 a glass, I suddenly finding myself happy to drink Michelob at $5 instead. This wine probably costs $6 direct from the distributor; when a restaurant is charging $34 for the bottle, that's $28 you've just spent for... well, what? Storage, stemware, and profit probably won't run you more than $15 - at least that's what this restaurant charges for corkage (that is, they'll charge you $15 to open a bottle of wine you brought from home) - so would anyone be happy with taking $28 out of their wallet and offering it up as a gift for no particular reason? No? I didn't think so.

Two: When it comes to wine, names matter. Really. When I see a wine list with things like "Maison Kuentz" or "De La Paompadour" on it, I get kind of pissed off. Kuentz-Bas, an Alsatian winery, make a very good riesling that I've seen for $14 at Costco, and Domaine Carneros's Cuvée de la Pompadour is said to be very good at $25 - but if use the wrong names, it feels cheap and stupid. It also doesn't help when you're selling these wines at a 320% and 350% markup over their retail prices.

Three: If you're going to label wines according to the type of grapes used to make them, don't have things on the menu labeled "vouvray" and "bourgogne (sic) blanc." Feel free to say "chenin blanc" and "chardonnay." Alternatively, if you're gonna use place names, then capitalize them for fuck's sake. OK? And whatever you do, "cuvee" isn't either, so just leave it off the menu entirely.

Four: Don't abbreviate things. Chard is a vegetable, not a white wine.

Five: Reserve isn't a kind of grape. It's a meaningless marketing buzzword.

Six: I don't give a shit what taste descriptors you put on a menu - but if you go there, please just stick to the tried-and-true descriptors wine writers overuse all the time. If you say a syrah tastes of "smoked ham, clove" all I'm hearing is "smells like SPAM 1960s style." Yuck.

Seven: If you're going to use place names, be consistent. Mendoza is specific; Italy isn't.

Eight: The word "rosé" has a fucking accent aigu. Please use it. Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose but you can't drink a rose. Exception: Charles Melton Rose of Virginia, of course.

Nine: It's lovely that you'll discount your wines by 50% (well, some of them) on Wednesday, but when I read that, all I see is "if this isn't Wednesday, we're about to rip you off entirely. Santé!"

Ten: Biodynamic (and it would be nice if you knew how to spell that correctly too) isn't a marketing buzzword (or, rather, it shouldn't be). Even so: if you're going to deploy it on your wine list, then at least mark which wines are biodynamically grown (using the Demeter mark). Better yet: I don't recognize any of the wines on this list as being biodynamic, so why the hype? Looking at this list, for example, makes me think that you have exactly three wines on the entire list that are biodynamically grown: two from Ampelos and one from Montinore. You say that "in an effort to be environmentally responsible, Kensington Grill is constantly striving to offer a selection of wines that focus on Bio-Dynamic winemaking." I say that you're a bunch of douchebags for your deceptive attempt to make your customers think there's something environmentally responsible about your lame-ass wine list.
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