Well at Il Wino d'Enrico Bernado concept restaurant in Paris that is a reality.
Although you will eat at this restaurant you will not get a
chance to take your pick. What you will get to choose is your wine. After
perusing the extensive wine list you place your order with the sommelier (wine steward), there
are no waiters, and he will return later with your chosen wine and a perfectly
The obvious focus of this Michelin-starred restaurant is the
wine, but the food is by no means an afterthought. When you order the sommelier
checks if you have any allergies or dislikes and will make sure the chef whips
you up something that beautifully matches your chosen plonk.
Alternatively, you could go for the blind tasting menu where
you’re brought six courses with matching wines, you are told what the food is,
but have to tell your sommelier what you think the wine is.
And although this might sound a bit stressful, risking sounding
like a complete ignoramus, apparently it is conducted in a really chilled and
playful manner with informative banter between the sommeliers and your table.
“You're not made to feel like an idiot if you haven't got a
clue and, conversely, if you start to get a little cocky, they'll throw in
something really obscure or start giving you your wine in opaque black
glasses,” said Alistair Smith in his article on his experience at Il Wino.
Would it work in SA?
Food24’s wine guru, Cathy Marston, said that although it sounds like a fabulous idea
she is not so sure the same concept would be glugged down in South Africa. “In my experience of running a
restaurant, people are more conservative than you think and I am not sure there
are enough adventurous eaters out there to make it viable,” she said.
South African chefs are up there with the best of them, but Cathy raises
concern about the practicality of the whole idea. “You would need an amazing
chef to be able to match food to that number of wines, using fresh, seasonal
ingredients, keeping everything in stock, not having horrendous wastage and
being able to send up enough dishes on time to suit the whole restaurant,” she
possibly the most worrying thing to any diner is the fear of repetition. Cathy
said that if this was so, then what would be the point of going back if you just
keep getting the same dish paired with your favourite bottle.
of Il Wine, the titular Berndo,
who in 2004 was voted the World's Best Sommelier, is thinking of expanding out
of France and venturing to either New York or London.
If a similar restaurant was to hit out shores
do you think the winos of Southern Africa would flock to it? Would you go?