I am guilty of choosing and patronizing restaurants with quality wine lists first, great food second. Preferring a reasonable level of symbiosis, my restaurant choices are disproportionately weighted by wine programs. If this resonates and you are more jazzed by contents of a subterranean cellar than walk-in refrigeration, or you just need a dose of expert wine list advice before you leave for dinner, then you should check out WineChap.
I stumbled across winechap.com doing some research for a spot to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary. The current emphasis is on New York, London, and Hong Kong restaurant wine lists, with hints of future market expansion. It’s an amazing service of experienced sommeliers, trade pros, and some other wino types offering insightful, competent guidance on the overall list and specific recommendations:
WineChap fearlessly delivers news and reviews of restaurant wine lists in an independent quest for value, variety, and character. We spend our time poring over lists, so the only pouring you need to do is in your glass.
WineChap is a unique online resource. We provide you with access to real-time wine lists, reviews, and recommendations, and our selections cover a range of different budgets and occasions.
I really like WineChap’s sensibility. You can search by city, neighborhood, restaurant name, regional strengths, value orientation, style of wine making, etc. Lists are reviewed based on range of wines, list personality, and value for money. The reviews appear to be almost real time and extremely current. For example, here is the New York Balthazar’s rating:
List review date: February 23, 2010
Range of Wines: 16 / 20 Personality: 20 / 20 Value for money: 10 / 10 Rating total: 46 / 50
- By the Glass
- Most interesting white / red available by the glass
- Value Option
- Our selection of the best wines in the bottom 20% of the list OR a particular bargain at any price point.
- 1st date
- Impressive but not too showy: circa $80 – but a wine that shows one’s connoisseurship rather than just size of wallet/expense account.
- Off the Beaten Track
- Unusual indigenous varietals/blends
- Old School Classic
- Classic (usually French or Italian – depending on dominant cuisine), from the middle of the list – a good wine, with age to stick on expenses and impress crusty wine bores/board members
- Treat Yourself
- Remember when you used to get a bonus? not necessarily most expensive – but a real treat, rare, particularly good vintage etc
- Crowd Pleaser
- A guaranteed winner – nothing too challenging. A solidly performing comfort wine which you are always happy to drink, even hungover.
- Wines being sold too young, and a prime indicator of sommelier’s integrity. Usually found towards the expensive end of a list with big names thrown in for several or more hundred dollars despite being years off drinking to that price.
- Over the Hill
- Old Dogs (knackered, well past their prime)
- Oh the Shame!
- An idiotic overpriced bottle of nonsense
- House Wine Stats
- Number of House wines available by the glass & the mean price
- Krug Index
- Price of a bottle of Krug NV