Lazy Wine Lists


I wonder if any of the diners at the newly-rebuilt UTS Haberfield Rowing Club in Sydney’s Inner West realize that more than half of the wines on the wine list are provided by one company? And does it really matter, anyway?

The rowing club dining room is on the top floor of the boat shed, and has stunning views across the water to Rodd Island, Drummoyne and Rozelle. It is sponsored by De Bortoli Wines (tastings), who helpfully put their web address at the foot of the plasticized sheet.

There are 30 wines on the list, 16 of them are by De Bortoli, but not one includes the De Bortoli name. They include its two on-premise-only brands, Willowglen and Lorimer, as well as Bella Riva, Rococo, 3 Tales, La Boheme, Yarra Valley Villages, Vinoque (misspelt) and Melba. De Bortoli wines are very good and only a pedant would carp about their quality or value for money. But what a lazy way to present a wine list!

The restaurateur hands over responsibility for wine selection, design, printing and plasticizing of the wine menu to a single company, in return for them loading the list up with their own products. It’s the way of the world: many of the bigger wine companies offer restaurants this service. It’s been happening for ages. Treasury Wine Estates, Global Brands (Pernod Ricard), Brown Brothers (tastings), and more.

Admittedly, UTS Haberfield Rowing Club is no temple of gastronomy, and the wine selection is adequate for the food. But it is just a little depressing. 

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