“Exclusive” Restaurant Wine Labels

Henry Yuen (Chinese posting http://taiyangbao.ca/author/henryyuen/?variant=zh-hans )

In the old days, most restaurants used to serve only house wines by the glass. These days, it’s quite a different story.

With the availability of new technology and gadgets to preserve the freshness of wine, almost all wines on the restaurant wine list can be served by the glass, if so desired. The trend is to provide small groups choices so they don’t have to stick to just one wine throughout the meal. Customers welcome the given opportunity to taste different wines with their food and thus providing the pairing experience keen flexibility and dinner enhanced pleasure.

More and more wine lists of top-notch restaurants try to get away from the term “House Wines” sighting that term as out-dated and not savvy anymore. The old-time notion to choose cheaper, lower quality wines known as ”House Wines” is fading away. What most restaurants have progressed to do is to pick certain wine labels as the restaurant’s signature wine. Some proprietors even go a step further to create the restaurant’s very own wine labels by asking certain wineries to craft a wine or two on the restaurant’s behalf which will pair well with the restaurant’s culinary style and menu. This no doubt is a sound idea to raise the profile of the restaurant. The decent quality of these private-labelled wines often proves to the diners the wines they made and labelled is not an afterthought but indeed very drinkable wines worthy of recommending. I have no problem with this at all since it is in fact the restaurant’s job to enhance customers’ dining enjoyment.

Market-Red[1]The “Market Red” available at Edible Canada Bistro on GranvilleIsland is a good example. This BC Gamay & Syrah blend is designed and crafted in Okanagan for the restaurant. The launch of the wine has created a marvellous marketing opportunity for Edible Canada by not just talking about wine, but showcasing the true calibre of the restaurant’s culinary attention.  Eric Pateman, founder and CEO of Edible Canada smartly takes advantage of the strong global recognition of BC wine industry while assuring his customers through exquisite food and a focused wine menu using Canadian products this is what the restaurant is all about.

An alternative concept taking advantage of customer’s every-growing attention to the both the chef and the wine is to have a wine the chef recommends. That chef endorsed wine goes through rigorous selection process before they become the signature or speciality wines of the restaurant is a loud and prominent message verifying both the chef’s passionate involvement and the restaurant’s commitment to provide a great food and wine pairing experience.  The astounding and wittily-labelled “Feenie goes Haywire” Red and White at the Cactus Club Café gives diners that these are naturally salient wine choices. Putting Chef Feenie’s name on the wine bottle is ‘the’ invitation for diners to relate to Chef Fennie; thus more than willing to give it a try.  The wines are crafted by the Okanagan Crush Pad and without a doubt pair well with Chef Rob Feenie’s sought-after signature dishes. The household name of B.C.’s very own ‘Canadian Iron Chef’ Ro Feenie is now prestigiously attached to the line-up of “wine experts”. 

Feenie goes haywire 2       

Adopting a similar mode with a partnership approach, EarlsRestaurant now offers the “Rascal Next Door” 2011 Red and White blends crafted by Cedar Creek Estate Winery on their behalf. The ‘relationship’ between Earls and Cedar Creek is a partnership made-perfect and indicates the graceful respect to each other, given the fact that both are pioneers in BC’s F&B field.  Such notion re-affirms the tight net-work which is valued both in the industry as well as in the dining public. Priced at a reasonable $28 per bottle, these wines will be popular with customers who appreciate quality wine but at a price that wouldn’t break the bank.    Rascal next door   

We all know food and wine goes together, yet nobody wants to have to read a menu as thick as a book before deciding what to order. To remain competitive, restaurants cannot be stagnant and any novelty idea could furnish an edge to go up one level. Restaurants that pay attention not just to their food but to both elements often come out ahead and find a spot in customers’ list of favourite restaurants.