I just love reading the local wine critic’s admiration for those daring, forward-looking, inspiring wine directors in local restaurants, and restaurateurs in general, who:
- Don’t have any Chardonnay or Cab on their winelist because, you know, that’s so boring.
- In California, explicitly don’t have any California wines on their winelist because, you know, that’s so boring.
I really wish that such restaurants would have little notices saying that they despise California wines, so that I could be aware of their forward-looking nature before spending my cash there.
Odd how restaurants are always praised for locavore tendencies–sourcing the food as close to the restaurant as possible–but equally seem to be praised for their one-finger salutes to a vibrant, incredibly varied wine industry by saying local just isn’t good enough for their golden palates.
In case the above wasn’t clear enough: I won’t knowingly dine at a California restaurant–that has a wine list, that is–that makes a point of shunning California wines.
I wonder: Are there high-end restaurants in France that pointedly reject French wines? Are there famed restaurants in Italy that will have nothing to do with Italian wines?
I’m guessing not. I could be wrong.
It would be one thing if California simply didn’t make any world-class wines, or didn’t make anything but overoaked Chardonnay and high-alcohol Cab. Those are such caricatures of the diversity of what’s made here that a wine director believing them should be sent to direct wine traffic at a liquor store, not in a restaurant. (I don’t say “supermarket” because, in the Bay Area at least, many supermarkets have excellent wine collections. I’m thinking of the small traditional liquor stores that have astonishingly poor wine selections, probably because they know their clientele.)
When I travel out of state, I’ll make some effort to try the local wine, since every state has at least one bonded winery (although not every state grows wine grapes). Many states have some good or excellent wines, even if you leave out Washington, Oregon, New York and Texas, all of whom have first-rate wines by any standard.
I think a Texas restaurant gets extra points for seeking out a few of the first-rate Texas wines to serve. Ditto for New York. Ditto for Virginia. Ditto for states with more than a handful of wineries turning out quality products, although those may be fewer and harder to find. At the other extreme, I’d find it odd for a Washington or Oregon restaurant in the white tablecloth category not to have some of the state’s wines.
But in California? To explicitly exclude the state’s own wines? Sorry, but I’ll take my food dollars elsewhere.