Wine & Spirits Magazine Publishes 24th Annual Restaurant Wine Poll

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“The fear of doom is over,” say sommeliers, who are seeing renewed interest in Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux as well as an openness to wines from emerging markets, such as Hungary.

What are people drinking right now? You’ll find the answers in Wine & Spirits magazine’s 24th Annual Restaurant Poll, on stands today. The Poll amasses the responses of hundreds of sommeliers in America’s top restaurants, who filled us in on what wines sold best during the fourth quarter of 2012. This year’s results reflect a relaxing of the purse strings: While a full half of respondents reported that they’ve held prices steady since last year, 65.7% reported that their wine sales have increased as a percentage of overall restaurant sales.

As a side effect, sommeliers such as Hristo Zisovski at Ai Fiori, Rebecca Banks at Balthazar and Maximilian Kast at the Fearrington House Inn in North Carolina are reporting a renewal of interest in classic regions such as Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy. As Scott Turnbull at The Fountain at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia puts it, “People seem to be saying, ‘I was good for a year; now I’m going to have a glass of Champagne’.”

This year’s exclusive Restaurant Poll report appears in Wine & Spirits’ April issue, available now at newsstands and bookstores as well as in digital format. The Poll ranks the popularity of wines by brand, variety and country of origin, as reported by sommeliers at Zagat Survey’s most popular restaurants as well as W&S New & Notable Restaurants. It also includes exclusive interviews with dozens of sommeliers on wine and dining trends.

If there was one variety sommeliers saw the most action with this year, it was pinot noir, the only major varietal to gain ground, jumping nearly a full point in share of wine sales over last year, to 16.5%—a larger share than either cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay (15.8 and 12.2 respectively). California and Oregon still dominate pinot noir sales (now taking 88.9% of the share of points, up from 86.1% in 2011). Yet France’s overall popularity is continuing on the upward swing the poll has tracked over the past two years, rising from 13.3% to 17.1%—neck-and-neck with Italy, long the dominant force among imported wines. Germany, Greece and New Zealand all saw an increase in their share of the most popular wines, while Chile, Italy and Spain fell in popularity.

The most popular wines overall are listed in “The Restaurant Top 50”—the 50 brands that received the most mentions from participating restaurants.

Top Ten Most Popular Restaurant Wine List Brands in 2012:
1.    Cakebread Cellars
2.    Duckhorn Vineyards
3.    Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
4.    Orin Swift    
5.    Jordan Vineyard & Winery
6.    Marchesi Antinori
7.    Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards    
8.    Merry Edwards
9.    La Crema
10.    Emeritus

Copies of Wine & Spirits’ April 2013 issue featuring the Poll results are available by mail for $9, including postage and handling. Members of the press interested in receiving the publication or scheduling an interview with Joshua Greene may contact Samantha Groseth at 212-695-4660, ext. 31, or sgroseth(at)wineandspiritsmagazine(dot)com.

Founded in 1982, Wine & Spirits is published eight times a year and read by over 200,000 members of America’s wine community. Consumers and wine professionals read the magazine for information on established and up-and-coming regions and producers, the art and science of viticulture, industry happenings and food and wine pairing. Wine & Spirits, the only wine publication to win the James Beard award five times for excellence in wine writing, evaluates more than 12,000 bottlings every year.
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Samantha Groseth
Wine and Spirits Magazine
(212) 695-4660 31
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