Now that “farm-to-table” is a part of our lexicon, it’s time to embrace the “grape-to-glass” movement as well by looking to smaller producers, sustainable production methods, and daring pairings. In this new quarterly column, we’ll look to area wine experts for insight on local lists. College Park resident Jade Apisuk is a representative for Augustan Wine Imports and works with several area establishments, including those mentioned below.
Edible Orlando: Why do we see so many of the same names on wine lists?
Jade Apisuk: National wine brands still dominate the overwhelming majority of wine lists in Central Florida because it’s easier for restaurateurs to default to household names when they don’t have the time or expertise to dedicate to a quality wine program. But it perplexes me to see menus cite the provenance of their heritage pork chops and local produce, then carry wines that anyone could grab from a grocery store shelf.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these famous wine brands. We’ve all bought and consumed them. But when I choose to spend my calories and my money at a local establishment, I’m not looking for a meal I can re-create at home, I want an experience–and that includes the wine.
EO: What are some local establishments with a great wine list that’s accessible to the average diner?
JA: The Ravenous Pig’s wine program has been an evolving, intriguing entity. Their list features quite a nice blend of old-world (European) and new-world (not European) wines available by the glass and the bottle, with domestic selections that lean towards the Pacific Northwest. They also have a preservation system that works on sparkling wines, which allows them to pour several bubblies by the glass, including true Rosé Champagne. Serving sparkling wine by the glass is fraught with peril since the product often loses its fizz before the entire bottle is sold, so it’s a real treat for the diner when a restaurant can do this well.
EO: When it comes to a great wine list, does size matter?
JA: Depth and breadth of selection aren’t the only indicators of a quality wine program. Storage is hard to come by, and some of the gems in this town operate in spaces so cramped it would give pause to claustrophobics–you’d be amazed at what’s stored under the benches of just about every booth you’ve ever sat in! When places like Smiling Bison manage to put together a small yet diverse list that features French Rosé by the glass and Pinot Bianco from the Dolomites in Northern Italy, it’s something to celebrate and support.
No matter what the size of their list, I hope that local diners will patronize and encourage the bold few who are innovating in an industry that is in desperate need of change. The wine enlightenment is coming to Orlando, and it’s bringing some unique bottles to the party.