At our White Stick Sips tasting last night I was chatting to Jacques De Klerk, winemaker at The Winery of Good Hope, who informed me that more and more restaurants are charging producers for the ‘privilege’ of having their wines listed. This pisses me off no end.
Just think of what will happen if this practice becomes more wide-spread? Only producers big enough to fork out the fees will be available at restaurants and we will see less and less smaller boutique operations represented. It underlines how little local restaurants care about our wine industry. Many will only list wines if the producer throws in some umbrellas, aprons, corkscrews, chalk boards, a one in ten deal, and a quick hand-job in the cloakroom.
This is why you see so many Distell, DGB or whoever dominated wine lists. This is not to say that these wines are all poor, rather it means that the wines available in restaurants do not nearly reflect the variety South African wine has to offer.
I haven’t even mentioned some of the obscene mark-ups I have noticed while dining in and around Cape Town, but I’ll leave that for now. This listing fee malarkey is arrogant, opportunistic and a fucking shame. The only possible way you could justify this is if the restaurant served your wines at the perfect temperature, in the correct Riedel glass, by a well trained sommelier, excellently paired with the food, your table is lit by bottled moon light, and the wet towels are moistened by the tears of unicorns.
I want to know that the wines on a list are there for their quality, their value,and how they pair with the restaurants’ food, not because the producer has a deep pocket.
I am going to try and find out which restaurants are charging listing fees and post them here. Every time I visit one of them I will make a point of hassling the management over this ridiculous fee. Please join me in this.