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The Somm Knows Best!
Oh, really?

In March, 2015 I wrote a rant about a group of arrogant sommeliers who call themselves "In Pursuit Of Balance" who push for wines with lower alcohol levels by banishing anything over 13.9% from their wine lists, meaning that a large majority of California wines missed their cut. Well, yet another sommelier has made my head explode. Chardonnay, has always been the wine that sommeliers love to hate and in an article in this month's Somm Journal, a magazine devoted to restaurant wine professionals, sommelier Randy Caparoso really pushed it over the edge. Here are some excerpts...

"Chardonnays from California, in particular, are slowly but surely getting crisper, sleeker, less obviously tutti-frutti, a little less oaky or “buttery” and a little less fatty and annoying. Speaking, of course, from a sommelier’s perspective. The customers — our guests, as we call them — have always been right, and thank goodness, more and more of them are becoming a little more “right” about their taste in Chardonnay."

"But if it seems like this sea change in consumer taste has been a long time coming, you still have to ask: How many of us in the on-premise industry still stuff our wine lists with popular brands of Chardonnay that perpetuate that fat, buttery varietal style out of fear that we’ll offend many of our guests if we don’t? You might call it giving-the-customers-what-they-want. I call it enabling."

I'm sorry, I must be enabling my customers' poor taste in wine by selling Rombauer Chardonnay. I know that this was taken from a trade publication never meant to be read by the public, but I think it offers a serious insight into the sommelier mindset that dictates that the tastes of their customers has no relevance to their wine list selections. This rises to the same level of arrogance that the "In Pursuit of Balance" group display in banishing California Cabernets from their lists because the alcohol levels are too high.

Here in the store we sell Chardonnays that range from crisp Chablis to big, oaky California wines like Rombauer, and trust me, the oaky wines out-sell the crisp wines four to one! Chardonnay is almost 50% of my white wine business and there is a reason, Americans drink Chardonnay as a cocktail. And without food, most people simply prefer a soft, smooth wine to a crisp, acidic one.

Ok, tantrum over...