Thursday, October 24, 2013

What steakhouse patrons want in a wine

But is it Cabernet? From "Cougar Town"
Yesterday I was tasting some Madirans, made with Tannat, with a group of sommeliers. One from a major steakhouse said, "My clientele doesn't like wines with tannic structure."

I ... was ... shocked. When and where else would you want to drink a tannic red wine? So I asked, what do they want?

He said, "They want big wines, no tannins, based on Cabernet, and under $100."

This from a place where the cheapest steak is $42. And the steaks come with no sides; those average $11 each. But forget the price: think about that description. Sounds like what they really want is a Grenache/Syrah blend, but they want it to be called Cabernet.

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12 comments:

John said...

I do quite a bit of business entertaining at steak restaurants and I see the same thing. The Prisoner (used to owned by Orin Swift) is the darling of the patrons (Zin blend - all fruit, no tannins). And the Meomi Pinot is the beloved wine-by-the-glass. Again, huge fruit (taste like a zin blend again and in no way a pinot noir). It has a smooth mouth feel, no tannins.

DAPZ said...

I also work at a Steakhouse. Our heavy hitters are Cabs and Malbecs although we manage to sell a lot of Riojas as well.

W. Blake Gray said...

Hey Dapz, this came up yesterday: Can you sell Cahors (we tasted a good one) if you just call it Malbec? Or do people want them only from Argentina?

rapopoda said...

I want my steaks without stakehouses

Andrew Walter said...

recently cooked some grass fed ribeyes with a porcini crust over parsnip puree and roasted wild mushroons and served at a dinner party....first wine was a Paso Grenache blend (McPrice Myers); the 2nd was a Napa cab blend (BV Tapestry). They could not be more different in their tannin profiles but both were delicious and went well with the food. I think maybe its the upfront richness (ala James Laube) rather than the backend tannins that match with this kind of food

W. Blake Gray said...

Two nights after hearing this I went to The Palace, a totally BYO place where steak is the final of 5 courses. Took an outstanding D'Arenberg Grenache and a major Napa Cabernet, Shafer Hillside Select. We finished the D'Arenberg, no problem. Nothing wrong with the Shafer, as the chef seemed happy with how much we left him.

DAPZ said...

Hi Blake, I bet it would sell if we sold it under Malbec. People would wanna try it. But Cahors is such a particular wine and so different than Malbec from Argentina that I think it would disappoint the guests. Maybe the more modern versions would work...

dfurer said...

Hey Blake.

Your quickie overview kept to general terms--fair enough--but pairing any wine(s) with a dish(es) isn't merely a matter of simply 'steak with red wine'. Cooking temp, serving temp, heat source (which begs gas v. wood), seasoning, saucing, etc. all play a part in determining which wine(s) pair best with a specific steak preparation. Too much detail for most, I know, but I suspect most of your readers as well as those keen somms with whom you tasted would be open to such banter.

And as for Madiran v. other Tannats excuse the client horn-tooting but, having tasted a plethora of Tannats from several sources, those from Uruguay show the greatest diversity and therefore flexibility and charm when positioned alongside numerous red meat preparations--not only its trad 'parrilla'.

DAPZ said...

Blake,
Your question made me think. Do you think the Cahors you tried would satisfy people that usually order Malbec ? They want an easy drinking , fruity, straight forward, fun, not too tannic wine.

I have tried some excellent Cahors myself but I feel the style is so different to the Argentine Malbecs that it's hard to believe is the same grape. Same with Alsatian Pinot Gris and Alto Adige Pinot Grigio for instance.

I don't know, it is an interesting point though, worth exploring.

W. Blake Gray said...

Dapz: That wine was outstanding and if I get a chance to write it up for the blog, I might do so (very busy week here, lots of deadlines.)

It was Chateau Croisille Prestige Cahors 2007, retail $24. Ripe red plum fruit up front, savory notes on finish. Lively. Just 12.5% alcohol.

DAPZ said...

That sounds good Blake. I'm gonna seek it out!Thanks

Man About Wine said...

I finally figured it out too. Cabernet tastes best but the tannins get in the way. Hence, Merlot and Malbec sell well because they taste close to Cabernet but less tannin. And I sell a lot Carmenere now for same reason. No $30 wines, just under $10 wines. Meomi P noir sells well (and I try to never mention it. Grape juice plus vodka. Ooops, my employer might get bad feedback.)

If the guys at UC Davis could create a Cabernet strain that had flavor but less tannin, millions of dollars to be made.