Friday, June 27, 2008

Working on a new design.

With the refurb approaching at an alarming rate, less than five weeks until we close now, we are trying to finalise the new design of the winelist. The current iteration has been in place for nearly two years now, and its time for a refresh. For a while now, Ive always fancied the idea of a landscape winelist, and it looks like this might well be the direction that we are heading in. In order to make the best use of the pages I want to present the winelist in two columns to a page. We are now working out the smaller details - font, font sizes, colours, paper type, weight and colour, not to mention the most important consideration of the lot - how do we present the wines. Currently we use the "old fashioned" concept of listing by country, with the commonly used convention of the old world first, new world second. In many ways I'm loath to move away from that format, because it is easy - both for me and the customers. But Im conscious that many people now choose their wines by style rather than country. So perhaps we ought to consider listing the whites first then the reds? Maybe by grape variety? Or we could use funky descriptive terms like Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale Arizona ( (though Im not sure the boss would like that one!!).
Its an area that Ive given a lot of thought to over the last few years and the conclusion that Ive pretty much reached is, although we like to think we are a modern restaurant, we have a very traditional outlook and a traditional wine cellar. So for now, I think we will stick with the "old fashioned" presentation of listing the wines by country with the old world first, but try to modernise it a little bit, by having narrative sections highlighting stunning examples of each grape variety - allowing folks to choose by grape if they wish. Id be interested to know what you think.


Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

Cowboy Ciao winelist was v interesting for a wine geek (and for non-geeks they have a short list) Prices seemed reasonable and odd, eg $71 rather than 70.

Looking then at your wine list online it comes over as rather dull and rather uninformative. But the worst thing is for me is
that it is (I'll say this here as you have comment moderation on) inaccurate.

I know South African wines so I'll just comment on them:-
L'Avenir is not in Constantia, it is in Stellenbosch, and the 2005 was an Estate wine which should be mentioned as it is part of the appellation. I think maybe its changed places with Steenberg which is in Constantia not Stellenbosch.

Is the Stormhoek Pinotage really Walker Bay? Maybe its a special bottling but you dont identify it as such and the standard bottling I have is Western Cape. (and that retailed at £5 so your £30 seems excessive)

I cannot work out the order of your SA reds, not in price order, alphabetical order, vintage, appellation or grouped by varieties. Looks random - what am I missing? The whites are grouped by appellation but the reds?

I'm looking for accuracy and information ina winelist. For example, why should I pay £70 for Mas Nicholas when it tells me nothing about the wine, not even the variety? (I think I know a bit about SA wine, but this is new to me and it is not listed in Platter 2008.)

I think a line of description would be appreciated


grazza said...

Many thanks for your comments and for pointing out several glaring errors in the south african section. Alas while cut and paste can be convenient for the tiresome and tedious task of typing out thousands of wines, it often leads to many errors, some of which you noticed there (I cannot quite figure out how I managed to get l'avenir and steenburg both in the wrong appelations). The reds were not as organised as the other sections and it is something that I had meant to address some time ago, but for some reason it just kept slipping off the to-do list, and thank you for promting me into doing that. I have made the appropriate corrections and there are a few vintage changes and deletions that have been made, hopefully the updated list will be put online at the beginning of next week.
While not attempting to make excuses for the inaccuracies, it is sometimes quite difficult when you work for a long time with a document to spot all the little typos and mistakes, because I think that sometimes your brain seems to autocorrect them for you, and it is only after a period of absence from the document that they jump out at you so glaringly obvious.

The Mas Nicholas is a cape red made by Nico Van der Merwe, winemaker for Saxenburg estate. It is a blend of Cabernet and Shiraz (roughly 50:50)from Simonsberg and Kuils River respectively)The 01 rates four stars in Platters 05 guide (the lurid pink one, unfortunately the most up to date version that I have)

I would welcome your ideas on improving the layout of the wine-list to incorporate information while at the same time, maintaining a level of "decorum" that will keep the big boss happy. Have you ever seen the herbfarms winelist? (

Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

The Herbfarmslist looks very attractive, but it obviouslyhas had a lot of expenisive design work done on it, and -- from the comment at the front about prices subject to change --seems like it is therefore not frequently updated.

I think first your list has to be accurate. There is nothing worse than taking time to discuss what wine you will be buying and then finding when you place the order that it is out of stock or a different vintage. OK at a Chef & Brewer maybe, but not at a Michelin restuarant.

Have a look at the Pluckemin Inn wine list. They have 10K wines and their online wine list is accurate to the minute see here - .

As a writer I am well only too aware how you can read the same thing time after time as see what you meant to write and not what you actually did expect to see.

However, I am surprised that you need to type out wine names. I could print out right now in half a dozen different formats an accurate restuarant quality winelist now of all the wines I have using Cellar Tracker as used by Pluckemin Inn. Even if you don't use the preformated lists (see )they offer, you could paste the list into Word and tweak it and pretty it up as you wish.

Since all the wines you have probably already exist in the CT database you wouldn't have to do to much work to use it, and you'd benefit from their structured data, e.g correct names and appellations. You can try FOC

BTW I loved your enthusiam about Randal Grahm but you may want to check the spelling of terroir in your piece, and didn't he sell Bonny Doon?