Incidentally, after this visit, I happend to hear a podcast where a sommelier made suggestions on how to order wine at a restaurant if you don't know much about wine. He suggested to go straight for the Cabernet Sauvignon. I couldn't disagree more. If you're not used to a wine with tannin, you might not enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon (although it's generally a good accompaniment with steak - especially steak that has taken a butter bath like Luger's meat). I didn't want to pay $80 for a boring California Cabernet. I also didn't like being steered in that direction that Luger's obviously wanted it's patrons to go. Of the say 40 wines on the menu - 20 of them are California Cabernets.
Here's what I did:
In general, if you want to pay around $50, don't know a lot about different wine growing regions, and you find yourself at a restaurant and the wine list looks Luger-like lame here are a few guidelines:
- choose a non-Cabernet Sauvignon varietal in California. - I considered ordering a Merlot for a moment. This is a good option especially since Merlots have to try extra hard to be taken seriously STILL.
- choose a Cabernet or Cab-blend in another Country. - I considered a Casa Lapostolle Cabernet from Chile for a while - that was exactly $50. In my price range. I also thought about getting the St. Emillion (Merlot heavy) from Bordeaux, but thought it might be a touch earthy for the collective palate at the table.
- choose a bottle from a value country - Spain, Argentina, Australia, Chile. These are all great choices of countries to check out on a wine list. These countries tend to over-deliver for their price. The mark up won't be as high - the restaurant is marking up the higher volume wines - in this case California Cab.