5 Must-haves On Every Wine List

Trying to come up with a ‘complete’ list of wines with only 10 or 15 labels is significantly harder than compiling a list of one hundred labels.

When designing a small list, it is vital that the entire floor staff is well-versed with each wine and able to speak about them to diners accurately and passionately. A small list also means that that the staff can taste each wine (which is something that might not always possible with a larger list) and training your staff on the high notes of the winery’s story as well as the tasting experience should be a priority. You want to ensure that there is something there for everybody, which often means including a variety of styles in both value and icon categories, so use the feedback of your staff to evaluate your selection accordingly.

Here are 5 styles that should be present on every small wine list.

1. Bubbly: Good quality sparkling wine. It makes a great aperitif and gives an option for diners looking for a celebratory drink. If possible, try to list a non-Champagne sparkling wine by the (full) bottle and a half-bottle of true Champagne.

2. The good all-rounder: A crisp, dry, largely neutral white with refreshing acidity. Muscadet, dry Riesling, Pinot Grigio are good examples. This wine appeals to lovers of light, dry whites. The style is quite easy to pair with a variety of foods.

3. Something for the wine geek: A complex, earthy, light to medium-bodied red wine — Pinot Noir, Rioja (or New World Tempranillo), Chianti or Valpolicella. These styles can be depended on to deliver a quality offering and often have a broad appeal because they are not heavily oaked, overly spicy or over-burdened by big, chewy tannins.

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