Over the past few weeks I have been in more wine friendly cities than I can count, starting with of course Paris, France. There was also Barcelona, Lisbon, Portugal, London, as well as a side trip to Orlando, and the magic kingdom of Disney World.
To say that wine is in plentiful supply would be an understatement. To say that there is a glut of really good wine would be also, as both the quantity and quality of the wine being poured from around the world in bars, brasseries, bistros, tapas bars and high-end restaurants was nothing less than amazing, even to a veteran gourmand and world traveler.
For example, at Jiko, in Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a restaurant that reminds one of Roy’s in motif, and even in menu approach had a wine list from South Africa that would make local ex-Pats in La Jolla run to their travel agent. I have yet to see a list in the United States of wines from the various regions in South Africa that comes close. Names like Mulderbosch, Raustenberg, and Warwick come to mind. Even my favorite producer, Neil Ellis had one or two on the list. What’s more they even had some South African “stickies” on the list that paired well with every dessert on the menu.
In Paris, at the suggestion of Juveniles wine shop and wine bar owner, and long time friend Tim Johnston, I headed over to Il Vino - one of the most interesting concept restaurants around. Instead of ordering your food, you order you wine, or your wine flights and the kitchen comes up with the dishes. The concept, which makes every meal a wine dinner, is something I’ve yet to see in the United States, but one which likely would go over well in San Francisco, New York or anywhere public transportation is plentiful.
That’s another point, which always needs to be emphasized. Given the amount of travel in San Diego County needed to find wine friendly establishments, always make sure you have your “Desi” or the Designated Driver. There are too many good vintages to be had, and the use of cabs and car services can’t be underscored enough. The problem is many restaurants don’t take the time to build the kind of relationships needed to insure a patron gets a ride home promptly as I’ve found in London with the mini-cabs that run the city. Like a limo service, these car companies charge taxi rates, but are prompt and clean. That’s more than can be said about San Diego County taxi cabs most of the time, especially here in North County. So plan ahead and make sure your ride home is waiting for you.
Andy Abramson writes about wine. He can be reached best by e-mail, at