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Letter: Restaurant wine selections can be confusing for diners

Restaurant wine selections can be confusing for diners

There are not too many sommeliers in Buffalo’s finer restaurants nowadays, to my knowledge. In response to a lengthy piece regarding restaurant wine lists in The News “Taste” section, I feel compelled to respond.

Comparing high-end/lower-end wines to driving Audis and Volkswagens is silly. Wine selections today reflect either the restaurant owners’ preferences or the wine distributors’ sales staff recommendations. In either case, wine selections can be daunting and confusing for the average consumer whose primary goal may be to enjoy wine as a celebratory occasion, or perhaps attempt to discover a flavorful or exciting wine as a treat after an exasperating work week.

Nevertheless, as a retired sommelier from the renowned Park Lane restaurant on Delaware Avenue, I feel much is missing, even overstated here, leaving much for the customer to learn.

Locating the person in the restaurant who is most knowledgeable regarding your selection, assisting not only in quality but taste preferences and price, is important. Restaurateurs need to provide adequate training for staff members to complete the dining experience.

Some finer dining establishments have storage units that provide proper temperatures for both red and white wines. Presentation is necessary for any wine service at any price. Pristine polished stemware, appropriate glass size and attitude are key.

Tastings arranged for staff members or those handling wine sales is paramount to creating an embraceable and compatible selection that will live long in the memory of valued customers.

Turning back a bottle of wine should never feel intimidating. Sometimes wines are improperly stored, have turned color or simply don’t please. Ask for another selection.

Janice S. Schlau