But wine waiters can play their part too – few Yorkshire eateries have full time sommeliers – if they are confident and know about the wines they have on offer.
I was invited to join Simon Chant from Enotria as he introduced staff to some new additions to the wine list at Salvos in Leeds. Although it was a training session, it was much more informal with a tasting and swapping of thoughts about the wines and what they would go with.
There were two wines from Campania, two from Calabria and two from Sicily – none of them household names but good drinking and great matches for regional Italian food. Simon is passionate about his job and passes on the sort of knowledge and stories which will help the waiters make suggestions if asked. In short he makes wine fun.
The staff were posed interesting questions like how do you sell a rose wine to a table of Yorkshire blokes and their girlfriends ( try suggesting the pale pink Planeta rose with a well designed label which doesn’t look girly) and what would you suggest if someone asks for a medium white (a Costadune Grillo Chardonnay, from Sicily which has gentle fruit flavours)
In preparation for one of the Salumeria’s Meet the Winemaker dinners, a pair of unusual wines from Calabria were opened. It’s the often wild woolly and previously lawless (according to Simon!) heel of Italy and the wines come from a smallish producer called Librandi, who has vines planted in concentric rings like alien crop circles.
The white is made from Greco Bianco grapes and is fresh, spritzy and has a minerality which would go well as an aperitif, with fish or lighter pasta dishes. The red is made from the intriguingly named Galioppo grape and is also fresh, fruity (cherry and violets) spicy with enough guts to match spicy fish and meat dishes. They’ll be selling at about £5 more than the house wine – and you’d be getting character and flavour by the glass load.
If your appetite is whetted, winemaker Raffale Librandi will be presenting five of his wines, matched with a five course dinner at Salvos Salumeria on Thursday March 1st.
If you know of anywhere with an interesting wine list, why not let us know and we’ll review it. You can post a message in the comment box below.