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Restaurant's House Wine

October 19, 2009 Tags: 0 comments
Last Sunday I was invited to a Birthday in a restaurant, we had delicious food and pretty good wines, however, the wine list was poorly made, we had to opt for the most expensive wines on it. At the end of the long lunch, we finished at 5pm, because we did not want to go home yet, we decided to stop for another few minutes in the restaurant bar.

The boys had another glass of wine and the girls, the designated drivers, had soft drinks. We had a look at the wine list again and did not have enough choice so we went for their house wine, unfortunately, the wine was undrinkable. After the first sip, we left the wine in the glass and left. The wine was very poor, had too much acidity and no flavour at all. This final glass of wine, or better, its poor quality, changed our opinion on the whole restaurant experience. We went from being very happy, we will come back soon, to a sort of it was all right, we may come back if we are in the area.

The house wine in a restaurant should be seen as the wine that can, pretty much, pair the majority of dishes on the menu and not as the cheapest wine. Unfortunately, on both sides, its rationale is wrongly interpreted.

Restaurant goers, in the almost totality, see the house wine as the cheapest option on the wine list; for many restaurants, the cheapeast wine they can buy, there is no consideration for the house wine, the less it cost the better it is.

A house wine, like any other wine, should be good and balanced, an easy drinking wine, but well made, unfortunately, what often happens is that house wines are not, and are very often either with a very high acidity, grapes not fully ripe, or where just the alcohol stands out, with no flavour at all, alcohol that gives body to the wine and many wine drinkers see this body as an indication of the quality of the wine, even if this is not the case.

The body of the wine is a component and should be seen into context and non on its own. I personally, unless I trust the restaurant or know the wine, never order a house wine in the restaurant, and never order it if it says “house wine” without any description. Very often, with only a few pounds more, it is possible to get a much better wine, and if I can't find any wine I like, not even after having asked for a taste, I will probably order a beer, better safe than sorry.
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