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“Cult Wine” Section On A Wine List: What Do You Think?


Cult Wine List

What do you think about restaurants having a section of their wine list specifically for “cult wines”? I know of a restaurant doing this and I personally didn’t really like the idea. To me, cult wine means: overpriced wine that enjoys a higher demand than supply.

I see this as getting away from the foundation of what wine is all about, and focusing on everything it is not about, putting the emphasis on the price and availability instead of what’s actually inside the bottle. I have no problems with cult wines themselves, more power to them for working their tails off creating a wine people will pay hundreds of dollars for directly from the winery, not including restaurant markups.

What do you think?


  1. Dirty | Monday, December 1, 2008

    I think it is cheesy.

    I have nothing against so called cult wines. I like a bunch of them, and there are a few that are still under the radar, and represent good deals. But breaking them out on a list is wiener-like.

    A lot of places have a reserve list, if they want to segment them out, I’d throw them on there.

  2. Richard Shaffer | Monday, December 1, 2008

    I have a little mantra in my biz that “kosher is not a country”, well….”cult” is not a wine category that’s informational, except as you say that to indicate that it’s wine bought at crazy prices through a waiting list.

    And then to pay restaurant markup for them??


  3. Taster B | Monday, December 1, 2008

    I’d turn my nose up at a “Cult” section on a restaurant wine list, but I can totally see a restaurant taking advantage of the fact that certain clientele has a need to impress their dinner/lunch guests with an outrageously priced bottle of wine.

  4. Guy Renois | Monday, December 1, 2008

    I think any restaurant that has a cult wine section on their wine list shouldn’t be serving wine and has no idea what wine is about. Is the restaurant you speak of well-known?

  5. Ron Washam, HMW | Monday, December 1, 2008

    Oh, boy, if you’re going to get into stupid categories on restaurant wine lists it’s going to be a looooong discussion. I personally love categories like “Lesser Known Whites”–lesser known to whom? The pinhead who buys the wines? Or “Meritage,” which lists a bunch of Rhone blends along with the Bordeaux blends. Sort of like putting Chicken of the Sea in the poultry case.

    However, it might be refreshing to see a list that has not just “Cult Wines” as a category but also “Wines You See On Every Wine List,” “Wines I Bought Because the Rep Was Cute,” “Future Cooking Wine,” and “Wines I Had to Buy to Get the Cult Wines.”

  6. Alan Kropf | Monday, December 1, 2008

    Thanks for the comment guys.

    Dirty: I agree with you, though even “reserve lists” seem a little hokey to me. They make sense in wine shops due to theft issues, but wine lists represent an opportunity to present wines in a way that doesn’t just focus on marketing gimmicks.

    Richard: I’m right there with ya. Selling “cult wines” to people as “cult wines” is like wine prostitution, and I can’t imagine that the cult wineries themselves are excited at the idea that their wines are being pimped through a “cult section” as opposed to being treated with respect in the category in which they belong.

  7. Alan Kropf | Monday, December 1, 2008

    Ron, I think you have something there with your additional wine list section recommendations. I know the restaurant referenced here well, and if there was money to be made in these additional categories, they would most certainly do it.

  8. Alan Kropf | Monday, December 1, 2008

    Guy: The restaurant I speak of is very well-known, though I want this discussion to be more about the concept of giving cult wines their own section versus on the restaurant itself.

  9. Jason Sanwell | Monday, December 1, 2008

    Via Twitter: Separating by price on a wine list is a bad idea, I don’t like Reserve sections and Cult would be even worse.

  10. Janet M. | Monday, December 1, 2008

    Cult sections on wine lists represent everything that is wrong with wine.

  11. Katie | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    I think I would have probably gotten up and left after seeing that, but would have made sure to tell them exactly why i’m leaving….how fucking tacky!

  12. Alan Kropf | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    Katie: Yes, I agree, I love making a scene!

  13. Barry Jensen | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    A cult section for cult wines? I’m sorry, that is a TERRIBLE idea.

  14. Jesse Porter | Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    I don’t mind the “cult films” section in the video store. The difference, though, is that anyone can rent them, because they cost the same.

    Once Screaming Eagle can be had for around $80 (including markup), then I think a cult wine section would be ok. There’ll probably need to be some kind of socialist revolution first though.

  15. Alan Kropf | Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    Great comparison Jesse! I love the part about socialist revolution as well. I always through that out in my own proposals but people never seem to go for it…

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