How to Build a Better Wine List: Tips from Top L.A. Sommeliers

How to Build a Better Wine List: Tips from Top L.A. Sommeliers

By Allison Levine, Foodable Contributor

The world of wine is vast. From regions to varietals to producers, there are thousands of wines to choose from. Consumers are inundated with choice and it is very common and comforting to revert to a wine one is familiar with. But with so many options and variations, there is not one wine that will fit every occasion or cuisine.

With extensive knowledge about food and wine pairings, it is the responsibility of the sommelier to build a wine list that matches a restaurant’s menu, and engage and challenge the customer without intimidating them.

Building a Wine List

When building a wine list for a restaurant, while it seems like an obvious statement, it is best to select wines that fit the cuisine and the restaurant concept. “It does not make sense to have an all Italian wine list with Thai food or only Rieslings for white wines at a steakhouse,” says Ben Teig, wine director at Redbird in downtown Los Angeles. 

The key to a good wine list is balance. Jared Hooper, wine director at Faith & Flower, also in downtown L.A., explains that “balance can exist in many forms and take place over one page or 150 pages. There should be variety in terms of price, age, place, grape, texture, and then, most importantly, familiarity.” 

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