A wine list like no other

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When you think of good food, almost infallibly good wine comes to mind as well. The two are basically intertwined when it comes to restaurant dining, and they’re both subject to heavy scrutiny from diners with dozens of other choices at their fingertips.

Before Fade Street Social was even close to opening its doors, we knew we wanted a wine list that would match the level of our food and the feel of our restaurants. The actual process of creating that list, however, was a bit more complicated than it might sound.

The Task

Nearly two years ago now, when we were hard at work designing our menus, refurbishing our building and establishing our overall brand, creating an outstanding wine list was at the forefront of our minds.

At the time, many restaurants were narrowing the scope of their wine lists- by and large, selecting wines that precisely matched their food. It’s not that we disagree with this perspective, but let’s face it, it can be somewhat limiting, especially for the occasional wine drinker. There’s something about these fixed wine lists that’s intimidating, and at our core we place more value on experimentation than haughty simplicity.

We wanted to approach our wine list with a different attitude, one that fell in line with the culture we were trying to create in Fade Street Social. Heading into a venture with two restaurants under one roof amounted to double the opportunity to showcase our favourite foods and flavours and to build a new kind of restaurant experience. But, with twice the food and wine came twice the pressure to perform.

The task was to build a wine list that suited both dining rooms, taking into account their distinct styles and differences. More importantly, we needed a list that could encourage our guests to choose something new rather than intimidate them into choosing the same old Pinot Grigio they’d been drinking for years.

The Solution

We enlisted the help of wine importer Colly Murray to take charge of and oversee all things wine related. It may be clear by now that this was no small task to undertake, and Colly was responsible for every aspect of its organisation.

So, instead of marrying our wine to our food, we opted for a vast, all-encompassing wine list, full of diversity and representing an array of grape varieties and regions. The benefit of this is threefold: one, we’re providing choice, two, we’re giving all of our food something to accompany it, and three (but most importantly) we’re encouraging guests try something new by making more diverse wines accessible and affordable.

The Process

Together with Colly, Dylan and the directors began the arduous task of building our wine list. The idea was simple (on paper): to create something all-encompassing and easy to navigate, because we just don’t believe you have to be a sommelier to select a great wine.

They started by grouping various wines together based on style and flavour rather than region. This changes the way the wine list is read. Instead of ignoring every other bottle of wine until you see something familiar, guests can turn to the chapter of the style of wine they know they’ll enjoy, have a read through and possibly discover something new.

Once they decided on the main flavour profiles, they broadened the scope to include as many grape varieties as possible. This meant taking into account wine trends, like the Irish love of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and all things Portuguese, but also surrounding them with lesser known grapes of the same standard.

Then the fun really began: they started tasting. It was a gruelling process, as you might imagine; they spent roughly three months tasting hundreds of wines. (Sigh. Sounds tough.)

But don’t be fooled, the wine tasting process was more rigorous than you might at first imagine. It’s not just about tasting a wine and deciding if it’s nice or not. The challenge really lay in finding wines that were easily accessible, that could be imported on a consistent basis, and most importantly, that could provide excitement and affordability. So, it was a bit complicated.

The Result

After months of experimentation and a slow elimination process, the final cut includes to just over 40 whites and just under 50 reds, as well as a small but strong collection of sparkling wines and just over 20 private cellar wines.

For our tapas dining room, we needed as many wines by the glass as possible. Guests to our Gastro Bar are experimenting with different foods, and need the option to change the style of wine to suit. Keeping this in mind, we’ve selected twelve exceptional wines by the glass for red and white respectively.

The restaurant was another challenge. The dishes feature flavours and textures and can be highly complex. So for the restaurant, Colly wanted more than one wine to match each dish and bring out different flavours each time.

Both dining rooms benefit equally from the size of the wine list and the assortment of flavours featured within it.

Evolution

Fade Street Social is, and always has been, about evolution. Our food experiments with new flavours and cooking traditions, drawing on inspiration from Ireland and abroad, and our wine list follows suit.

With more than 100 wines from every major and up and coming wine region in the world, we take variety seriously. For us, the inspiration behind this wine list is our desire to get people trying new things. Yes we’ve got the old reliable you’re used to, but we’ve also got a good few other options that you just might enjoy if you give them a try.


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Fade Street Social, Dublin Restaurant by Dylan McGrath
Fade Street Social, Dublin Restaurant by Dylan McGrath