Best Restaurant Wine List

Nan Yang

A really good wine list isn’t just about the number of vintages, or even the rarity of the wines. After all, you’re just going to order one bottle — okay, maybe two. What you want is a list that matches well with what’s on the menu. If it’s pizza, then you want a nice inexpensive Chianti. Elegant seafood might call for a high-end chardonnay. A list that enumerates wine after wine after wine from every corner of the globe is probably trying too hard to intimidate the yokels and impress the rest of us. Now, while Citron, Chez Panisse, and Bay Wolf all have wonderful selections, creating a wine list for a Burmese restaurant is a major feat indeed. Tucked between India, China, Laos, and Thailand, Burma’s food is a blend of those nations’ complex cuisines, featuring curries, noodle dishes, and exotic salads. Neither Burma nor its neighbors have wine traditions to speak of, yet Nan Yang has about forty selections, all from California, and every wine has clearly been carefully picked to match the menu. There are cabernets, merlots, and chardonnays on the list, including some very nice ones, but its “alternative” section offers unexpected treats. This list is heavy on Central Coast wineries, along with Rhone-style wines from small producers. What goes with the restaurant’s signature green papaya salad? Try a bottle of “Enchante” from Andrew Murray Vineyards, a viognier-based blend with an intense floral bouquet and pleasant hint of bitterness in the finish. Another versatile choice is Concannon’s “Assemblage,” a fragrant mix of sauvignon blanc and semillon. This is not a list designed to dazzle, but it’s a challenge well met.


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