The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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Page 67 of 134

july 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  65 I would venture that 70 percent of what we sell is red. Surprising! I would expect that from a steakhouse, but not here. Is it the menu that drives those sales? I think that's just a reflection of our guests' general preferences, not neces- sarily the food. Our menu is contem- porary California cuisine focusing on seasonal ingredients served in a classic tavern style. We specialize in the sort of comfort food that makes everyone happy. OK, so what is the top dog of red wine sales? I would venture Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. California Pinot Noir, by far. Amazing. I know you work the floor here so I would venture that has a big effect. But considering the percentage of by-the-glass sales, I'm still surprised. How many customers ask for recommendations from the list? About 50 percent. Most guests have an idea of what they're looking for, so I listen and then offer them a selection that fits the criteria. Because tables are generally ordering a mix of seafood and meat, Pinot Noir is a common go-to. Although I absolutely love Pinot, I like to offer lighter red alterna- tives that the guest may not have otherwise considered. I get it. When I came in today, I asked you to select a wine from the by-the-glass list that we could taste together. I have to admit I wasn't expecting Saumur! But what a wonderful selection the Château de Brézé Clos de Midi is. Tell me about it. This winery has been around since the 15th century and has a storied history. It was a favorite of the nobility in Europe in the 1600s, and it's a superb example of what Chenin Blanc can be. Chenin Blanc? By the glass? Fantastic! This wine is bone-dry with no residual sweetness and a delicate floral and red-apple character. Delicious. Yeah, it has laser-sharp acidity with beautiful minerality and excellent power and concentration. It pairs well with our diverse cuisine. The wine is imported by The Source, which brings us really fantastic wines. What are your annual wine sales? I'd say about 20 percent of total restaurant sales. We do serious volume, allowing for a lot of movement on the wine list, which means there's always something new and exciting. The staff really loves learning about it and our regulars enjoy getting to try new things. How often do you do staff training? It's pretty much daily. We have a 30-minute lineup before service to go over menu changes, pairing oppor- tunities, and list additions. We have a serious ongoing training program and we recently put a large number of the staff through The Court of Master Sommeliers Level 1 course. You were one of the instructors! I regularly put together study guides for the regions of the world represented on the list, incorporating descriptions of our wines from those regions. How many wines are on the list? About 300. What about wine dinners? Yes, we recently partnered with Aperture Cellars on a wine dinner we held in our private dining space, the Eden room. It was very successful and we look forward to doing them more routinely. We also do monthly wine dinners at Petit Marlowe, and we have a Tuscany-themed dinner this coming Monday with Giovanni Folonari of Tenuta di Nozzole. How many wine salespeople do you see each week? I manage to sit down with about six distributors each week. There are so many of them and I try to give every- one an opportunity. How about sales of wine versus spirits and cocktails? It's about even but I have to give an edge to wine. Weekends really push the cocktail sales with brunch being especially strong for spirits. Mid-week wine sales are very strong. What does Lindsey like to eat and drink? I am an adventurous diner. I love lots of different cuisine but have a real love affair with Spanish tapas. My guilty pleasure for wine is, of course, Champagne. Of course it is—what was I thinking asking that question? And what trends should we be watching for in the near future? I've been seeing a trend toward the plant- ing of lesser-known varietals in California. We have such a diverse climate, so there's a lot of room for experimenting. I've recently tasted great Trousseau Gris, Sémillon, and even Aligoté. Lindsey, thanks for not saying orange wine. Good luck with your MS exams in the future! Lindsey Young oversees a wine list of more than 300 bottles at Park Tavern in San Francisco.

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