A Drinkable Canon
A literary guide through my favorite Albuquerque wine lists and the people behind them
By Joseph Baca
Anyone can build a wine list. It’s just a list of bottles, after all. But ultimately, the love and enthusiasm that a sommelier (or wine steward) invests in writing the list is what makes for a page-turner.
If a restaurant wants its customers to enjoy their wine experience, it’s imperative to have someone with great wine knowledge onboard. Beyond simply creating a list, a good wine steward will generate interest and enthusiasm among staff and customers. If the restaurant can help its staff to better understand wine, it will show in the service.
Like wine itself, determining what qualifies an excellent wine list is subjective. I look for wine lists that have a varied selection of by-the-glass pours, served in proper glassware. I also look for a decent half-bottle selection, a great alternative to wasting wine or overconsumption. I then look for obscure varietals (uncommonly used grapes), rare bottlings or wines made by my favorite artisanal wine makers. Most importantly, the offerings on a wine list must complement the food—in both style and cost. I always check to see if the pricing is reasonable by comparing the retail price of a bottle I’m familiar with to the restaurant’s prices. Standard restaurant markup is about two times as much as retail, less at the higher end.
But fancy wines, glassware and knowledge are only part of the story. Like a good book, a wine list should have passion, intrigue, some mystery and a little drama. Here are some of my faves.
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Publisher: Mimmo's Ristorante & Pizzeria
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