Wine List of the Year Awards are on the way, a time when sommeliers around the country hold their breath with anticipation to see how their last 12 months of work have served them.
Theoretically it's not the last year, it's the life span of the restaurant, investing, evolving, learning.
If interested you can tune into the digital streaming of the event November 30 at 4pm.
What makes a good wine list though?
Firstly, it's the food.
The level and quality of the food will end up dictating the level, quality and styles of the wine served.
You're probably not selling Henschke Hill of Grace with a Hawaiian Pizza, but likewise if you're trying to run a fine diner and only have clean-skins from that all too tempting clearance bin at the bottlo, you'll probably annoy the stiffer collared customers.
Next, where is the venue?
If it's in a wine region, it needs to celebrate it.
There is no point ignoring or limiting it, get involved with the region, it's probably why the customers are in your eatery to start with.
On the other hand, if you are outside a wine region begin with your closer regions with their best examples, expand out to the state's best examples and eventually national standouts.
Running a seafood venue in Cairns?
Maybe look at Queensland whites before Barossa Shiraz.
Listen to the customers.
This is the biggest mistake wine buyers and 'sommeliers' make.
It's no good just putting on wines you want to drink if the customers don't want anything to do with them.
You'll find most Australian customers won't know that random eastern European wine region with grape varietals so obscure the customer doesn't even wish to attempt to pronounce them.
Start with identifiable wines that put the customer at ease, then move on from there. Don't avoid the difficult, just build up to it.
It needs to make money.
There is a reason wine prices are different in restaurants to retail outlets and its overheads.
Customers who claim that they can buy a bottle of something at their nearest Dan Murphy's for much less are not worth the venue's time, but neither is pricing out the entire local market with sheer greed or simple unbalanced margins, $12 a glass versus $100 a bottle and other weird anomalies.
The list must tick boxes. Try and have a few examples of different varietals by the glass and bottle.
It obviously takes money to have range but don't just have five Sauvignon Blancs and five Shiraz options, those ten wines could be ten different wines.
Finally have fun.
When it all comes together, the food, the wine and experience it should be fun.
That's the most important element to a successful wine list.
David Collins is the restaurant manager and sommelier at Charred, he has been studying wine and the wine industry for several years and will write a wine column for the Central Western Daily every second Saturday.
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