The Wine Curmudgeon interrupts the regularly scheduled rant about crappy restaurant wine – I found a wine bar that does it the right way.
It’s the Wine Thief, located in the Omni hotel in Fort Worth, two things that make its excellence even more amazing. First, Fort Worth is not a wine town, and second, hotels are notorious for their indifference to wine. Nevertheless, the Wine Thief does one of the best jobs I’ve seen in 20-some years of paying for wine in restaurants. I bought a bottle of an excellent Faiveley white Burgundy, about $20 retail, for $45 – a price and quality combination that I find in a restaurant about as often as I run scores on the blog.
What makes the Wine Thief work?
• No hotel mentality, which means there aren’t any crappy, very overpriced wines. Hotel wine markups are probably the worst in the world (five to one, anyone?), and the wines are often as bad as the markups.
• Texas wine. And not just one, but from five producers. Because, said general manager Phil Natale, “We get visitors from all over the world, and they want to have local wine. So we need to have some for them.”
• Fair pricing, and not just for the white Burgundy. Most of the markups seemed to be no more than three to one, and some seemed to be less. “We want the pricing to be attractive enough so that customers will want to buy a bottle,” said Natale, about as subversive a thing as I’ve ever heard a restaurant person say.
• An interesting wine list, almost devoid of the distributor-driven stuff that dominates in restaurants. I saw a half dozen quality labels that I have not seen on lists in years, Sicilian and Loire sparkling among them. Natale told me he did this to be different, which was the Wine Thief’s reason for being.