One of the burdens of being a “wine guy” is the task of choosing wine at restaurants. No one wants this responsibility since restaurant wine lists are not inexpensive and who wants to shoulder blame for an expensive wine that misses the mark. But “Real Wine Guys” enjoy the challenge of finding a great wine for good price!
Rule #1 – don’t select cheapest bottles on list.
At a recent dinner with friends (party of 8) and even before the waiter arrived, I was handed the iPad containing an exhausting wine list. I was not surprised that very few bottles were priced $50-$70 – this venue is a popular steakhouse in the glitzy neighborhood of Aspen (Colorado). as often is the case, less expensive bottles had higher markups (TRIPLE markup) and were not very good.
Rule #2 – identify price and meal pairing (i.e. fish, meat).
As I studied the wine list while everyone else was reading the dinner menu, the sommelier (Somm) offered assistance. Since the common meal was steak, a bold Red was the obvious choice. The Somm suggested Napa Cab or Sonoma Merlot in our budget (below $100), but neither was outstanding and my California selections were too expensive. So, I suggested looking at Spain where wines are often a good value, and suddenly there was the perfect wine! CLIO (El Nido Clio) was a bit young (2016 vintage) but Somm agreed to decant, and $90 was fair price for bottle sold at $45 retail.
Needless to say, everyone agreed that Clio was an outstanding choice and a second bottle was quickly enjoyed by all.
BODEGAS EL NINO Clio 2016 |
Jumilla, Spain | $45 |
70% Monastrell 30% Cabernet Sauvignon | Monastrell is more commonly known as Mourvedre outside Spain.
Winery says “Dark cherry red. Intense nose of ripe fruits (cassis) and confit fruit mixed with sensations of toasted coffee and licorice which brings finesse and elegance. Strength, flesh, savory and opulence combine on the palate of this wine that develops in bottle.”
NEXT WINE DINNER IS MARCH 12 AT FORTE RISTORANTE, CALDWELL NJ
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