Wine List Analysis: The River Café and Charlie Bird
New York City has a variety of casual dining restaurants and fine dining restaurants. Many of these restaurants sell alcohol beverages ranging from wine, beer, and cocktails. In most cases, fine dining restaurants will have higher quality alcohol compared to casual dining restaurants. In this analysis, I will be comparing The River Café and Charlie Bird wine lists.
The River Café is an American fine dining restaurant located at the waterfront of Brooklyn. While eating at this restaurant, guests can see the beautiful views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. Their menu has a Michelin star rating and it features American cuisine with innovative cooking techniques and styles. As for their wine list, it is very extensive ranging from wines from France, Italy, California, and other regions. The River Café offers their wine by the glass, half bottle, or full bottle. I noticed how their wine list is very organized and detailed. The wines are categorized by countries and separated into white, red, sparkling, fortified, and rose. For example, for the white wines in France, each section in the list is separated by appellations like Burgundy and Alsace. Each page clearly states the type of wine, vintage, grape variety, price, and region of the wine. I also noticed how in the beginning of the wine list, the wines stated are concise and short, but as you read further the list becomes more organized by location. An attribute to this wine list is being able to offer many different wines. However, a weakness to this list is not being able to know what wine to choose from because of the many wines. Many people who dine at The River Café may not know or understand the different wines listed and what to choose from.
Charlie Bird is a casual dining restaurant located in Soho serving a “Italian-inspired, American-executed menu”. Charlie Bird offers seasonal outdoor seating on a patio and a private dining room for special events or large groups. The wine list is limited to only one page and it lists sparkling, white, and red wines. First, it starts with wines by the glass. Each wine listed has the producer’s name, grape variety, country, vintage, and price. The sparkling, white, and red wines range from $15 to $20 for a glass and most of the wines are from France. I noticed that the sparkling and white wines are combined and separated from the red wine list. On the bottom of the wine list, it shows twelve bottles of wine to drink before 5 o’clock. This is a unique attribute to drawing the consumer’s attention to look at those bottles listed. Since it is a casual dining restaurant, there is not a lot of assortment for wine which may be considered a weakness to the restaurant. Depending on their guests, some may not look at the wine list, but look at the cocktails and beers because it is a casual restaurant.
The River Café’s and Charlie Bird’s wine lists can be similar and different in some aspects. One of the similarities I noticed was the information that is given for each wine. Both wine lists provide the viewer with the type of wine, vintage, price, and country concisely. It can be easily read on the list what kind of wine it is. Another similarity from both wine lists is that they offer wines by the glass, half bottle, and full bottle. This may be common for most restaurants, but specifically seeing this from a fine dining and casual dining restaurant is interesting. The main difference found from the wine lists is how The River Café’s list is wide-ranging while Charlie Bird’s list is limited. We can see a large variety of wines from almost all over the world offered at The River Café. At Charlie Bird, there is about 22 wines in total on their wine list. Another difference is how the wine lists are presented. Based on the online version of each restaurants wine list, the list for The River Café wines are categorized in an orderly manner depending on the country it is originated from. There is not much color and the design is simple. The list for Charlie Bird is bold and bright in yellow and is organized by type of wine and by glass or full bottle. Since River Café’s list is much longer in length, it is expected to have more organization than Charlie Bird’s. Lastly, the wines from The River Café’s list are most likely to be higher in quality because it is coming from a fine dining environment. The quality of the wine from Charlie Bird may not be the same standard as The River Café’s list.
Comparing two different restaurant’s wine lists gives an opportunity to see how wine lists are brought together and what is offered depending on the type of restaurant. Many observations can be made including the attributes and weaknesses of the wine lists. Being able to see these comparisons and differences can expand how we see wine lists in different restaurants now.
Charlie Bird. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.charliebirdnyc.com/
Wine Program – Long Term Cellaring – Connoisseurs – Brooklyn, New York. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://rivercafe.com/wine-program/