One of my goals when I started Tiedemann On Wines.com was to be a source of information on wine and the lifestyle wine is such a part of. We like to provide as much knowledge and general information on wine and its culture as we can at all levels…knowledge or information you can use in Elkhart, Ind., or in the Bordeaux region of France (on your next trip). Sometimes, as in today’s post, our articles are more locally focused.
In today’s post we are taking a general look, and providing a review, of the McCarthy’s wine list. McCarthy’s is a restaurant located here in Elkhart. It is an operation that is owned by friends of ours and is also a Tiedemann Wines customer.
We are going to approach our review of McCarthy’s wine list from two perspectives. I’ll offer you my short analysis of the list and provide you with a condensed interview I had the pleasure of doing with my good friend Tom Borger, one of the owners of McCarthy’s. Tom along with Merril McCarthy, another owner, select the wines for McCarthy’s wine list.
My goal is for you to come away from reading this 3-part article with additional wine list knowledge which will continue to increase your comfort level when ordering wine from a list, be it McCarthy’s or any other restaurant.
As I have mentioned before in my blog, I firmly believe that the best way to educate yourself on wine is to drink it and study it. A good way to do that is to take advantage of a restaurant’s wines by the glass (known as WBTG in the biz) program. McCarthy’s offers a good WBTG program. These programs are a good way to taste a variety of wines to determine what kind you may like without shelling out the cash for a bottle and discovering you don’t care for a particular wine.
I should caution you that there can be a large mark-up on WBTG. It may be cheaper to buy the bottle if you think you’ll have more than one glass or if you will have guests trying the same wine. You’ll need to do a little math to determine which is best. I’ll discuss this in greater detail later. That is where educating yourself on a restaurant’s wine list and the various wines offered is a good practice. You do that by research and study long before you get there for dinner.
I suggest you go to the restaurant’s website and if possible download its wine list. McCarthy’s wine list is available on its website. You can select a couple of wines you think you might want to try and research them. If the list isn’t available through its website, I suggest that prior to your dinner you stop by the restaurant and ask to borrow a copy of the wine list. Just don’t forget to return it!
Your goal in all this research is to discover as much information as you can on the flavor profile and cost of the wines you want to try before you purchase them at the restaurant. You need to make sure they are wines you think you will enjoy.
The best place to do your research is by going to the website of the wine or winery you selected, or use www.wine-search.com. I use this site a lot as it is a good source for information on pricing, wine reviews and flavor profiles. You can also make a trip to your local wine store and ask the staff about the wines you selected.
I believe wine lists should be easy to read, well organized, educational and informative on the wines available.
McCarthy’s wine list generally meets my requirements for a good wine list.
Let me tell you in advance of my comments that I have inside information that McCarthy’s is going to be making changes to the style and presentation of its list in the near future to correct some of the criticisms I have on the format of its wine list.
The biggest criticisms I have are:
- The type is too small and difficult for some of us old fogeys to read, especially in a darker dining room. The font size on any wine list should be of a size and style that is easy to see.
- The “By The Glass” wines are spread out over the entire list. This requires you to look at or read the entire list to select a glass of wine…especially time consuming if your prior research had led you to a wine you already know you want to try. My recommendation would be to create a “By the Glass” section at the beginning of the list and have it divided into whites and reds just like the overall format of the list. This makes the wines quick to find and simple to select from.
The things that appeal to me about McCarthy’s list are:
1) The list is about the right size for this type of restaurant and menu. Here are some of the statistics of the list:
- 48 total wines on the list
- 25 red wines
- 19 white wines
- 4 Champagne/sparkling wines
- 28 wines in the WBTG program (about 64%)
- 15 white wines in the WBTG program
- 13 red wines in the WBTG program
2) The list is informative by providing a short flavor profile of each wine listed.
3) McCarthy’s has provided a short wine statement on its list, which suggests the owners care about the wine program and are attempting to convey that to you.
4) I believe this list offers good value.
Next week, in Part 2 of this series, we’ll sit down with Tom Borger to discuss the philosophy behind the restaurant and the wine list.
As always I appreciate your continued support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with friends and family. Your comments on this blog or on any other topics are welcome below.
Until next Thursday,