Scratch cocktails have blurred the line between chef and bartender. Craft beer is finding its way onto fine dining menus everywhere. Do these white-hot trends spell the death of wine?
According to Joe Anthony Savala, co-founder of Midtown Cocktail Week and a representative for the spirits industry, cocktails definitely have grown in popularity, but he doesn’t foresee them displacing wine anytime soon. “Cocktails still have their place before dinner or after dinner,” he says. “But I think wine will always have its place with food. That’s what makes it so special.”
For certain occasions, Savala would argue that wine has an edge over beer or cocktails because wine’s very nature—a bottle that’s meant to be shared—is social. “It kind of brings me and my wife together,” explains Savala. “I can drink cocktails with my buddies. But when I get home, we can open up a bottle of nice wine and it feels good that we can share that.”
According to Matthew Lewis, the wine director at Enotria restaurant and wine bar on Del Paso Boulevard, wine is on the rise even as the status of craft beer and artisanal cocktails is increasing. “Both from a statistical and from an observational point of view,” he notes, “people’s enthusiasm for wine just keeps growing.”
Lewis says the number of boutique wine labels is increasing at a rapid clip, as is customers’ knowledge of the product. “What has really surprised me and kind of delighted me is noticing how my clientele seems to be getting better educated, more enthusiastic, more interested about wine,” says Lewis.
As for the movement toward pairing beer with fine meals, Lewis acknowledges, “I definitely see that trend in the beer industry. I am actually kind of intrigued by it. I think there is definitely room in the market for both.” In a nod to the craft-beer trend, the wine-centric restaurant even hosted two beer events during Sacramento Beer Week this past winter.
Matteo Sargentini, manager at Pangaea Two Brews Cafe, a craft-beer bar and bottle shop in Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood, agrees that fine beer and wine can coexist.
“I don’t think wine is dead at all. I think beer is just giving people another option,” says Sargentini. “I think it all comes back to having a love of food and drink that goes with it. You can’t drink beer every day of the year; you’ve got to drink a little bit of everything.”