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Dec 16, 2006 02:50 PM

Why is wine an afterthought at many Gastropubs?

I really enjoy most Gastopubs that I frequent. However one thing that has always disappointed me about many of them is the quality and selection of wines that they provide. It is particularly odd to me because of not only the high level of attention given obviously to the food and beer but also to the selection of whisky, decor (and of course the jukebox). And it isn't just the selection but the condition of the wine particularly those provided by the glass which are often sour and/or too warm. To me wine should either be given the same level of attention as everything else or be abandoned.
So why is wine at many Gastropubs an afterthought?

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  1. Oh, gee -- three hours and no answer. OK, I'll take a stab at it.

    The UK has a long tradition of wine bars. It also has a long tradition of (some) pubs with fine food, but clearly the majority are merely passable (and some are impassible, but that's another story). But a wine bar and a pub are two different things: the pub's main business is that of a bar, serving the ales of whatever brewery they are affiliated with (tied house) or whatever they want (free house), plus distillates. Wine has never been a big deal in pubs, period. Wine bars are for that, and generally the food has always been better there anyway (traditionally).

    Now that "gastropubs" are improving the quality of the food they serve, should wine deserve to play a larger role? Sure, but a) tradition dies hard, and b) it probably will at some point but "one thing at a time."

    3 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      Thanks for your response. I meant to add a note that of the two London gastropubs that I've visited (The Eagle and The Marquis Of Westminster) both have had very good wine lists (and the food wasn't bad either). So I guess that I'm concerned more with State side gb's. As an example my local has 17 craft beers on tap (in constant rotation), 12 single malt scotches, 6 Irish whiskys, 6 Tequilas, 6 Bourbon's, etc, and a menu that includes soups like lobster and crab bisque, grilled octopus tossed in lemon juice, olive oil and herbs, wild boar in a vinagar sauce, etc. The wine however includes the likes of Bella Sera and Talus. That's very disappointing.

      1. re: Chinon00

        Well, here in the US, I think the answer is --sadly -- even more obvious.

        The US is NOT a wine drinking country. On a per capita basis, I think we rank 37th (+/- a couple) in total consumption. It's right around one case (9.0 liters) per year. So most people in the US are not wine drinkers, and will not really care about the wine list in a "gastropub," and so, therefore, why should the restaurant care? In other words, there's no real consumer-based impetus for them to. Add to that the American image of a British pub, and that tradition of ale I spoke of above is even stronger here, but for very different reasons.

        Brew pubs, at least here in California, have long had relatively good (some very good) burgers & fries/fish & chips, but not "real" food. You generally went for the beer. This has certainly improved over the past decade, but the brew pub remains -- first and foremost -- a place to get a great brew.

        As the idea of "fine" food in a pub setting grows, the initial push (I should think) is on illustrating that BEER isn't just for pizza anymore . . . recommending this pale ale with that dish; that porter with this one; etc. After all, it's still the beer crowd primarily that's going. The wine crowd is going to that other place -- you know, with the great wine list and the 20 wines available by-the-glass.

        17 beers on tap is great. So is 20 wines by-the-glass. The combination of the two may be too much for some restaurant owners to contemplate.

        1. re: zin1953

          Yes, the wine bars in my area have good craft beers available. It appears as though they are approaching beer far faster than the gb's are approaching wine. I guess though that it is easier to maintain beer than it is wine.