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Conceptually Challenged

Conceptually Challenged

Dear Good Somm Bad Somm,


I recently took a wine director job and I am tasked with designing a concept for a new wine list at the restaurant.  I'd like to choose a concept that will separate my list from many others.  Any suggestions? 

Sincerely,

Conceptually Challenged

Good Somm

Dear Conceptually Challenged,

I never really understood Concept Driven Wine Lists.  All "natural wines" or all "organic/biodynamic" wines or only "female winemakers" or only wines from "volcanic islands" are all interesting ideas but a "concept for concept's sake" seems overwrought.  A concept makes a lot of sense when you match the chef's cuisine:  an Italian focused list for an Italian restaurant or a Spanish focused list for a Tapas place.  So before you make any decisions, you should ask yourself:  Does my concept fit the menu?  Your next priority is to write a list that is accessible to your customers.  A "Wines of the Jura" list may not be relatable to someone who simply wants a glass of Chardonnay.  Your last responsibility would be to yourself.  This is the point where you can put your personal stamp on the program and share what excites you most.  Think of the classics as your baseline and then pepper in the esoterica. 

Sincerely,

Good Somm

Bad Somm

Dear Conceptually Challenged,

How about a SCI-FI themed list that will only include wines wherein the night picking crew had a close encounter with a UFO? 

Or you can take Natural Wines a step further and only include wines wherein the winemaker had been possessed by a vengeful spirit or demon.  Call that your "Super-Natural Wine List".

And I know "family owned / organic" wines are popular, but how about a list of only mega-conglomerate, hugely corporate producers that use giant mechanical picking machines and spray heavy doses of industrial fertilizers and Round Up weed killer all over the grapes?  You can call it the Wine List of the Apocalypse. 

Feel free to use any of these,

Bad Somm

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