How to Source Back-Vintage Wines for a List
Nothing intrigues wine-loving guests more than a wine list full of back-vintage bottles. Iconic wine programs like those of Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida, and Pappas Bros. Steakhouses in Houston and Dallas have become known for their depth of aged wines. Other, newer establishments, like Marta in New York City, which has a reserve list of old Italian wines, and St. Anselm in Washington, D.C., which lists older wines from classic regions at more approachable price points, draw guests in with limited, aged selections that complement current releases.
At Augustine Wine Bar in Los Angeles, which opened in February 2015, offering vintage wines by the glass was an important part of the program’s philosophy from the start. “This allows us to offer our guests a taste of the history that had only been afforded to the wealthy or on fancy wine lists around the world at big prices,” says Matthew Kaner, the wine director and co-owner of Augustine Wine Bar, Bar Covell, and Good Measure in L.A. “Our vintage wines by-the-glass chalkboard [menu] changes daily.”
It’s a strategic way to attract attention to the wine program, but how do buyers manage to acquire these bottles in the first place? The means of obtaining sound back-vintage wines for a restaurant program depend on state-specific laws, but if such acquisitions are permitted, it’s important to know that some methods result in more reliable wine quality than others. SevenFifty Daily spoke with experts who specialize in acquiring back-vintage wines to explore the best options for sourcing them and using them to enhance a program.