Cuisine & Wine match

Published by Borjanovic N. Comment(s): 0

Should a Spanish restaurant have an all-Spanish wine list? An Italian Trattoria offer table wine, exclusively from Italian regions? Does offering a wider choice of wines from other regions in a restaurant of a particular cuisine come at the cost of authenticity?

  • 08 Dec 2011

In my experience with clients I have noticed a difference between the family-owned restaurants often run by generations of a single family with links to the country of the cuisine style and the operations run by staff that have earned their stripes in the industry and gone on to open their own restaurant. With the first instance, family owned/run, not only is the wine choice a reflection of the cuisine’s region but often the staff are all of a particular nationality, interior depicts images and character one would expect of a certain “theme”… think colourful tiles in a Spanish restaurant or images of “nonnas” in an Italian pizzeria.

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This concept creates a sense of “authenticity” with the customers but does it deteriorate the wine choice? An Argentinian Steakhouse will no doubt be Mendoza heavy and in my opinion, rightly so, the heavy tannins of your classic Argentine Malbec cut right through the fat in the steaks, resulting in great taste. There is a sense of pride in these establishments; a belief one region’s cooking marries best with the wine of the same region.

I have supplied the same Spanish restaurant for five years and in conversation have suggested to the owner to consider introducing wines from non-Spanish regions. I had tried to keep it safe by recommending Spanish grapes grown outside of Spain. My suggestion was supported by the “food pairing” and “wider choice” trends . The answer was a resounding “No”. Initially I put this to a sense of pride but I was wrong; the owner successfully suggested a Spanish wine alternative for every non-Spanish wine I had paired on the existing menu.

On the flip side we have been involved with various restaurant launches which wanted to offer a wine choice regardless of the cuisine style. Often run by younger generations with no direct links with the chosen kitchen style. A Slovenian Merlot with pasta Napolitana, a Montenegrin Vranac with your steak Florentine?

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