Diners at Embassy XO enjoy a glass from the restaurant’s highly-regarded wine list. Picture: Social media
Diners at Embassy XO enjoy a glass from the restaurant’s highly-regarded wine list. Picture: Social media

Wine lists that define a restaurant’s personality

Call them a wine list, a bill of fare or if you’re fancy, la carte des vins; it’s a fact of life that a restaurant’s catalogue of wines on offer will often define a venue’s status - whether for the better or worse.

And I’m sure I’m not the only diner who tends to scrutinise the wine list before I even reach for the menu, no matter how much the tummy may be rumbling.

I admit to earning the ire of more than an occasional wait staff for not being ready to order a meal simply because of my penchant for over analysing the list of wines on offer.

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If you’re of my persuasion and a keen student of restaurant wine lists, you will probably already know the results of the 2020 Wine List of the Year Awards.

It is a set of gongs awarded by Gourmet Traveller Wine to the venues around the country with the best of the best range of wines on offer.

Last year’s judging started before Covid-19 wreaked havoc with the trade of restaurateurs across the globe so by the time the accolades were bestowed on the winners, their lists may well have been decimated and cut back to the bare skeleton.

The Gourmet Traveller Wine Awards have been running since 1994 and depending on the category, assesses lists based on content, balance, suitability, presentation and price.

According to Gourmet Traveller Wine, “Our panel of expert judges scrutinised the lists from bars, clubs and restaurants all around the country, looking for the perfect confluence of novelty, variety and of course, personality.”

The highest accolades were awarded to a Victorian venue, Attica, which sports a list created by Dom Robinson and Jane Lopes.

In Queensland, the winner was Blackbird in the Brisbane CBD, but Sunshine Coast venues fared very well in the judging process with three of our Coast’s restaurants (Noosa Waterfront, Sails and Bella Venezia) being awarded “3 Glasses” and another three, Embassy XO, Locale and The Long Apron, awarded “2 glasses”.

Across the country, 159 restaurants earned the prestigious “3 glasses” rating of their list, and of those, a total of 17 are found in the Sunshine State – showing once again that the Coast has much to offer visiting bon-vivants.

Embassy XO’s wine list was designed by sommelier James Alcock and owner Chris Burton, focusing on premium wines – including organic and bio-dynamic examples.

“We are thrilled to be awarded 2 Glasses again this year, and I have to thank James and my team for representing our selections so well in venue,” Mr Burton said.

“When designing the Embassy XO wine list, we wanted to create a collection of stunning premium wines from around the world, and have found many from some incredible small and boutique vineyards.”

What’s impressive about the Embassy XO list is the large number of wines offered by the glass- which is possible these days due to Coravin technology which extends the bottle life of wine after opening.

With so many highly-rated Sunshine Coast venues, wine-focused diners are somewhat spoiled for choice – even if “the rona’s” restrictions mean that bookings are now essential.

If you happen to find a venue with an exceptional wine list, be sure to nominate it for this year’s awards so that more of us can find the hidden gems.

Because if you ask me, a wine list is not just a wine list; it’s the body language and mannerisms that define a restaurant’s personality.

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