I am so far from one of those Sommeliers that are Snobbish and Stuck Up. You know the ones that speak to you at the table in such a manner that you want to change your mind and order a Corona. One pet peeve of mine and it should be yours is Wine Lists that do not print the Vintage (Or year the wine is from) If you look at the picture above, this looks like something that General Patton used in World War 2. It is a list from just about every region of the world of not grapes, not brand names not the top 100 but what experts rated the vintage in a specific area. Wine is not like beer or liquor. Then I accept that if you say you have a favorite that is your personal preference, maybe not mine but it doesn’t matter. Your vodka or scotch is your personal preference. In between positions as a Corporate Sommelier as a Server in an Italian Tapas/ Pizza/Entrees menu, I was shocked 1- that none of the guests ordering wine with dinner cared or noticed that the wine list had no vintages. 2- The wine list was 95% Italian Wines (which it should be) but because the consumer is brand addicted when it comes to wine, they found either A) a generic pinot grigio (Italians don’t love pinot grigio as there are so many more interesting varietals than that one) or they scrolled all the way to the bottom of the list and found either the Meiomi Pinot Noir or the 1 of the 2 Malbecs from Argentina (Generic Norton etc) or one of the American Brands they recognized like Jordan Cabernet or Mondavi or Charles Krug.
Every one of these guests when asked if I could at least make a suggestion by their taste and not by grape varietal and their budget responded with XYZ is my favorite wine and we will just stick with what they know. Even with a Certified Sommelier Level 2 (how many times will you have the opportunity at an upscale pizza place with a solid Italian List of 40 wines or so to get a recommendation on a wine you never would order and is a money back guarantee if you don’t like it?) More importantly, although as I mentioned taste in all products are personal and what I like you may not but how can people say any brand is their favorite wine when people make Einstein Looking like charts up above rating vintages going back to 1972?. No brand of wine in the world can ever be the same tasting wine from year to year when grapes grow in an outdoor environment and mother nature has control whether it is cold or hot or sunny or rainy. 2002 for example throughout the entire country of Italy was one of the lowest rated years ever in Italian Winemaking from north to south and east to west because of heavy heavy rains. This produced wines across the board from this country that were diluted and bitter and sour at best. Yes, that includes your favorite brand of pinot grigio or chianti. So you have a wine list without even listing the year or vintages (Once again a very important factor if not the most important, when choosing a wine or taking a recommendation) and you are making a claim that you only drink the same BRAND of wine and it doesn’t matter what vintage it is. That Vintage Chart is for SNOBS you think? I can tell you myself, when I dine out or go to a retail wine shop and I have the fortunate opportunity to deal with a server or a captain in a restaurant or a Sommelier in a Retail Shop or Restaurant as well, I feel like I hit the lottery because even on a $30 bottle in a Restaurant if you just describe the taste or style of wine you want that Wine Recommendation from the Sommelier is going to change your life as opposed to the same experience you have at any wine shop or restaurant ordering the same brand of wine (Not considering vintage) for the last 25 years.
In summation, I respect 100% if i like Glenlivet Scotch and You Like Johnny Walker Black Label better, you drink what you like. Annnd if you drink only 2012 Ruffino Gold Label Chianti and that is your favorite because that year was amazing to you…you are entitled to have your preference. Either way you always are entitled to have a preference as we in the Industry only offer a Suggestion. No one forces or pushes you to take it. That’s why they call it a SUGGESTION. Just remember, when it comes to wine to maybe take a recommendation once in awhile because you can’t melt down a label and drink it and I don’t expect you to study that crazy vintage chart up above (that’s our jobs to do the work for you) and instead of giving us a laundry list of wine brand names that are your favorites, tell us the style or flavors or dryness level you like and the price you want to spend and let us pick a wine no matter what grape or what country it comes from that the VINTAGE of that recommendation will deliver exactly what you described and introduce you to a new wine from a new region you never tried before. Most wine industry people are not getting rich. We do this to give you a special experience and that smile on your face when you enjoy one of our recommendations and the right year and the right price is why we do what we do. Have a Great Year and Hopefully the wine you drink next had a Great YEAR when the grapes were harvested.. Grape-fully yours, Larry