Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Wrath of Grapes.

There are a few things about restaurants lately that I truly hate. One of them is tiramisu. I freaking hate tiramisu. Not because I hate tiramisu, but because I hate tiramisu. It's as though every restaurant thinks that if they just have tiramisu on their God-forsaken menu that it will make it more "exotic." You are not being ethnic! You are not being inventive! Having a dessert with a funny name does not a gourmet restaurant make. Don't even pretend! Get rid of it and replace it with something real, like chocolate cake.

In the same boat as tiramisu at these crappy restaurants is Robert Mondavi's Opus One blended wine. Now, call me a snob, but I've never been all that impressed with blends. I like my cab to actually be a cab, likewise for pinots and merlots. I'm certainly not against the idea of blends, and Opus One is pretty damned good, so it's hard to be against good wine.

Still, Opus One is famous not because it's good wine. It's famous because it's famous. It was more a marketing exercise with a fancy logo, fancy name, and two fancy men associated with it. This marketing exercise has Opus One sold in restaurants that have no place at all in selling good wine. In fact, Opus One has now become a strong metric by which I measure a wine list. Namely, if Opus One is the most expensive wine on the list, it's in all likelihood a shitty list. This metric has yet to be proven wrong.

I've got a news flash for the restaurants that think by having Opus One, with it's fancy name, on your wine list that it will make your restaurant haute cuisine. It doesn't. It's out of place, out of price, and the only people buying it are self-important idiots who fancy themselves gourmets but actually have palates so dull you could fill the bottle with Welche's Grape Juice and there's a possibility they wouldn't notice.

Give it up. You just look ridiculous. If you want to truly impress with desserts, hire a pastry chef. If you want to truly impress with wine, hire a sommelier, or even just someone who knows SOMETHING about wine. You don't even have to hire them for long. Just long enough to give some structure to your offerings and take your restaurant from middling piece of stupidity to something greater.

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