Restaurants are playing it safe

I have taken my family out for lunch twice in the past two weeks, and on both occasions have I been disappointed by the selection of wines listed. In both cases, Chateau Ksara was the only producer whose wines were offered.

Don;’t get me wrong. Chateau Ksara’s wines are a huge and trusted brand in Lebanon with a comprehensive range, and clearly both restaurants thought that they could not go wrong by offering only Ksara’s wines.

Indeed it could be argued that, given the level of national awareness of wines outside the top three of Chateaux Ksara, Kefraya and Musar is still quite limited, the fear might be that most Lebanese drinkers are still reluctant to try anything else. Restaurants, it appears, are playing it safe and that means listing anonymous foreign wines…go figure.

But this is the shortsighted approach. In the last ten years, Lebanese wine has evolved at an enormous pace and there is now a huge variety of wine styles. At the same time, there are many Lebanese who waking up to the fact that their country produces wines of the very highest standards and who want to challenge their palates. Our wine lists should be a celebration, not just of our budding wine industry, but of rediscovering our exciting wine culture.

A good wine list or even a simple wine selection can be a value-added and should not just be an afterthought…something to have. Diners meanwhile, (and this is the case everywhere, not just in Lebanon) are becoming more discerning. It is not enough just to list wines. They want to know the style of a wine. Is it light, medium or full-bodied? They want to know what grapes have been used and perhaps even a thoughtful sentence or two about the winery written by the owner or the sommelier is often more intriguing than the usual banal tasting notes often taken from the back of the bottle. In short, if diners see an effort has been made, they will approach the wine list with more enthusiasm and a greater sense of adventure.

For isn’t that what opening a bottle of wine is all about?

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