If you’ve ever had the chance to sneak a peek at a restaurant’s wine cellar, you’ll probably be surprised by the number of bottles that you see. Restaurants and wine bars are swimming in quality wine, ranging from everyday drinking bottles to back vintages of some of the most prestigious wines around. Despite the cornucopia of wines available to guests, most sommeliers will agree that there are certain bottles that get cycled through constantly. We asked 10 sommeliers: Which wines are you sick of people ordering in your establishments?
“The same shit they always drink. Doesn’t matter what it is, my advice is to break out of your wine drinking shell and try something new. Think about wine characteristically, the bones of a wine you love will lead you to another wine you could love equally, OR MORE!” – Matt Kaner, Wine Director and Owner of Bar Covell, Augustine Wine Bar, Dead or Alive Bar, AM/FM Wines
“Natural Wines that are flawed but get a pass because they are natural.” – Eric Railsback, Wine Director, Mason Pacific
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“People often ask for wines by names that they are familiar with, often wineries that are very large and owned by even larger parent companies. It’s not that these wines don’t have their place, but I often feel that guests are ordering them because they are comfortable with the ‘brand.’ When these specific wines are unavailable, I often recommend something that is evocative of the style they would like, but occasionally there is misplaced expectation, and an assumption of disappointment when the guest does not get to have the wine with the name that they wanted.” – Ellie Bufkin, Assistant Wine Director, Maialino
“‘Bold’ wines.” – Steven Grubbs, Wine Director, Five & Ten and Empire State South
“There are certain wines on our wine list that people gravitate to because it’s comforting, and because it’s what they recognize and know. For example, Super Tuscans. Our ‘big red’ category on the Spiaggia wine list has a Cab blend that flies the fastest, whereas the smaller, ‘weirder’ varietals don’t sell as well, even if they are cheaper.” – Rachael Lowe, Beverage Director, Spiaggia
“Blends (for no reason except that it’s a blend).” – Joshua Thomas, Wine Director, Octavia and Frances
“I never get ‘sick’ of people ordering wine, but I’d say I get tired of guests gravitating towards their ‘safe’ wines. That is to say, the wines that they already know they like. Fun wine lists like the one at Sauvage are built for and intended to encourage experimentation.” – Nathan Lithgow, Sommelier, Sauvage
“I am so sick of people ordering what they think they should order versus what they want. Wine is about pleasure; don’t feel pressured into a bottle that is too expensive or not your style, simply because you think that is what the sommelier or restaurant wants you to drink. The best food and wine pairing is the one you like.” – Victoria James, Beverage Director, Piora & Cote restaurants, author of the forthcoming DRINK PINK, A Celebration of Rosé
“I love when people step a little out of their comfort zone and opt to order a wine that isn’t the wine they always drink. I particularly enjoy guiding the adventurous, ‘I usually like this, what should I try?’ experience.” – Kimberly Prokoshyn, Head Sommelier, Rebelle
“I probably had a list of wines earlier on in my career. But now that I have more maturity, I look at it differently. People are drinking wine, why would I be sick of that? I love cocktails, beer, and spirits but if someone prefers to drink wine, why would I be tired of that?” – Michael Engelmann, Wine Director at The Modern and Cafés at MoMa, Untitled and Studio Café at The Whitney