Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

No, size isn't everything

Published:  18 January, 2007

A wine list is like a penis. The consensus is the longer the better.

Everyone has their own favourite "what most people don't know about wine" story. Mine is about the 27 million or so people in the UK who enjoyed wine within the last month: almost half of them can't name a single grape variety. Of those that can, only 11% manage either Chardonnay or Merlot.

Let's remember, these are people who like wine. They must do: they bought it within the last month. Among them are people with money who can afford to dine at The Vineyard at Stockcross. Like my friend.

And when they're having dinner they want a decent glass or bottle of wine. Maybe two. But, faced with that great big leathery wine list, they're just turned off. What they'd prefer is something shorter but more sensitive to their needs. Something that will offer them the reassurance that they've made the right choice and that they are about to have a beautiful experience which will leave them satisfied.

Wine lists are about your customers, not you. A good wine list is one that offers customers what they want, even if they can't name a single grape variety. But too many seem to be about how massive your cellar is.

Now I'm sure that if you have a monster of a wine list a few fellow fetishists will stare agog, rubbing their thighs. But what about the half of the population who just think this is all a bit weird? They're probably just wondering if you're over- compensating for something.

Joe Fattorini is a journalist and wine writer for, among others, The Herald in Scotland