Local Vino, Wine Not?

The Daily Beast touts a story on wine and local eating as an exposé, but that seems a bit generous; author Todd Kliman's essay broadly details how locavore restaurants still typically serve imported wine, but this contradiction isn't news to anyone who has dined with their eyes open at any point in the past decade.

Still, the topic's a relevant one. The local food/imported wine double standard is as old as the locavore idea in America, in part the inevitable result of the fact that it can be rather difficult for non-Californians to get top-grade vino from their neck of the woods. (Note the important qualifier of "top grade"; there's decent-to-good wine cropping up all over the country, although not necessarily from purely locally grown grapes.)

Kliman notes:

"If these are heady days for the local cheesemaker, butcher, and farmer, they're head-scratching days for the local vintner, who has been largely shut out of the feel-good foodie fad. If the wine lists at the country's most prominent locavore restaurants tell us anything, it's that 'what grows together, goes together'—the mantra of the movement—is meant to refer to what's on the plate, not what's in the glass. Local and regional wines are seldom to be found."

Citing good local wines from Missouri, Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, and Idaho, Kliman makes a passionate, sympathetic, and ultimately vulnerable point: In most parts of the country, an all or even mostly local wine list would mean an alienating compromise on taste and/or value for high-rolling diners, the type of folks who can make or break a high-end restaurant more quickly than a sommelier turning his nose up at a North Dakota Chianti.

Still, the argument should be had, because there's a lot of middle ground between all imports and all local, and many restaurants could take a stride or two toward the latter without ruining their bottom line, enhancing the local economy in the process.

Image source: Flickr member alexbrn under Creative Commons