Restaurant wine lists and programs have evolved vastly in the past ten years. Two recent developments in the restaurant wine world have been the iPad and iPhone. Both of these applications, along with up-to-date websites and social media components, are creating better and more interesting relationships between restaurant owners and consumers.
Referring to a restaurant’s wine list prior to dining offers a great way to save time, find a restaurant’s best wine values and discover some unusual wines. With the power of the Internet and a restaurant’s wine list, diners can research on the web in preparation to experiment with a new wine, region or grape. Many restaurants include esoteric or less-than-mainstream wines on their lists, which are often good values, like the Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture from Southern Italy.
There are many Long Island restaurants that are taking their wine programs quite seriously and many provide some version of their wine lists on the Internet (it’s best to check with the restaurant on how current the online list is).
The Bohlsen Restaurant Group has been very conscientious about their wine programs for many years. They have a wine director (Paulo Villela) overseeing the staff and programs at all five of their Long Island restaurants, and several have been recognized for the quality of the wine programs. Prime in Huntington has an extensive wine list (34 pages worth), featuring world-class wines from pretty much every important and established wine region in the world. Such a list most definitely requires time to wade through. The list can be found at their site, restaurantprime.com, under the menus category.
A recent addition to the Bohlsen Restaurant Group is Verace in Islip. Verace has an Italian-focused wine list with smatterings from other countries. Unique for this wine program is both the pricing structure (very reasonable) and the use of a by-the-glass and a carafe program that offers wine from keg. This is an innovative commitment to the future of wine packaging, but a more serious commitment would be to only offer keg wines by the glass, which Verace hasn’t done yet.
Other unique wine programs that offer their selections on the Internet are Boqueria in Manhattan, The Living Room at c/o The Maidstone in East Hampton and The Ruvo(s).
Boqueria is a Spanish Tapas restaurant with a small and focused list. It is a very good place to experiment with wine and food pairings, and to sample a diverse group of Iberian wines. But they could do with a more exciting selection of Sherries as they are excellent for pairing with Spanish cuisine.
The Living Room at c/o The Maidstone focuses on small producers that are environmentally conscious (meaning organic, biodynamic and sustainable) and they have a large list of wines by the glass that the Sommelier, Kelly, keeps fresh throughout the year.
The Ruvo group of restaurants includes Ruvo East in Port Jefferson, Ruvo West in Greenlawn and La Tavola in Sayville. The Ruvo team has created a wine program with very reasonable prices and they have specials throughout the year featuring even better deals on both the wine list and menu. As they are all Italian restaurants, their list tilts that way, yet there are plenty of “safer” options from California and local wineries. To keep up on Ruvo’s specials and events visit their Facebook page.