Why farm-to-table restaurants aren’t hypocrites for not serving local wine

Eater Seattle asked the question yesterday, “Are Farm-to-Table Restaurants Hypocrites For Not Serving Local Wine?” Eater asked this question in the context of some criticism leveled at “farm-to-table” restaurants for not serving wines from Washington state, the third largest producer of American wine. Maybe in Washington state, the question is a difficult one to answer. Around here, and in tons of locations around the country, the answer is a resounding no. Not everywhere has the weather and soil conditions that allow for good wines to be produced. On top of that, many of the areas are also places where you could have a superb farm-to-table meal because of all the other great ingredients available locally other than grapes.

Here locally, the wines from Virginia and Maryland have ranged (in my experience) from the decent-but-overpriced to really nasty sweet stuff that would be better off getting reduced and made into a pancake sauce.

Now, I think this is a bit of a mountain made of a molehill. The person who spurred the debate by criticizing restaurateurs who don’t serve local wines with local foods was the the marketing director for the Washington (state) Wine Commission, someone whose job it is to get Washington wine moving off the shelves through any means necessary. By virtue of her quote and the subsequent responses from restaurant owners and chefs, she’s done her job quite well.

It also is what happens when an otherwise well-meaning food concept (local eating) is turned into a near-religion by fervent followers. To the limited extend I can tell what it is, I want to drink half-decent wine even if I’m at a restaurant that stresses local ingredients and if that means the wine comes from Californiaor abroad, so be it.

Photo used with a Creative Commons License from Flickr user hchen1


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Categories: Commentary, Drink

One Comment on “Why farm-to-table restaurants aren’t hypocrites for not serving local wine”

  1. Chris Edwards
    September 2, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    Perhaps we’d all also like Swiss chocolate, or Turkish coffee better then the “fair trade” variety. Maybe your local tomatoes aren’t as tasty as NJ tomatoes; Or your cream isn’t quite what I’d get from a PA Amish dairy farm. Maybe I want GA peaches, or AL pecans…
    That’s kind of the idea isn’t it? Making a sufficient meal responsibly and locally? Not the finest, or tastiest; But the most nutritional and ecologically sane.
    Oh wait, I wan’t thinking properly. It’s wine, so by all means, ship it from Australia…I forgot, wine snobbery is vastly more important and valid then food snobbery.
    No it isn’t! Get over yourself and drink the local swill, or admit that the average foodie shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting the finest French cheese regardless of how much waste and fossil fuel is burned to get it here. At least the average wasteful, industrial tendency serves some nutritional need, even if it is far less nutrition then they’d get from local food…
    Hypocrite, somehow because it’s alcohol it’s more important, when it should be far less?

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