The New York Times travel section ran a decent enough article on Pittsburgh's best local food restaurants on Sunday, highlighting a quartet that emphasizes "what's fresh and what's local."
Did any of this take into account whether any of the restaurants served Pennsylvania wine? Of course not. I'm trying to contact Kathryn Matthews, who wrote the article, to ask her why she didn't include Pennsylvania wine in an article about Pennsylvania food, and if I can reach her, I'll update this post.
But this lack of respect for local wine is not surprising. Those of us who care about local wine, despite the successes we've had over the past several years, still run into too much of this closed-minded approach to what's local. Critics, chefs and restaurateurs bend over backwards to praise and to find locally-raised tomatoes and pigs, but wine? Too many of them can't be bothered. More, after the jump:
More problematic were the rest of the wines on the three lists -- the usual collection of distributor-driven brands, sommelier pets, and demographically safe labels. Three Austrian gruner veltliners at a restaurant that showcases local food? Conundrum and Sonoma-Cutrer, which are pleasant enough but stopped being interesting 20 years ago? Mumm Napa sparkling, also pleasant enough but available in hundreds of other restaurants that don't bill themselves as unique?
Wine lists like this make me wonder: Is local food a serious, long-lasting movement, or is it more short-term marketing? Are chefs really concerned about cooking local, or do the bean counters see local as a way to lure the older, more affluent "foodies" who can afford to pay $12 for an eggplant appetizer in the midst of the worst economic downturn in 40 years?