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White Wine rules American palate

By Dave Buchanan
When Americans go out to eat, they order white wine by a 2:1 margin, reports Mike Dunne of the Sacramento Bee on his food blog, “Appetizers with Mike Dunne,” citing the latest annual survey of restaurant wine sales by the magazine Restaurant Wine. The survey initially was reported by Wine Business Insider. Dunne notes that while more steakhouses than ever are appearing on the national dining scene, American palates apparently aren’t keeping up with the “red wine with beef” philosophy. All top 10 wines sold in U.S. restaurants during 2006 were white, according to figures tabulated by Restaurant Wine publisher Ronn Wiegand of Napa, who bases his annual calculations on interviews with restaurateurs, distributors, importers and wineries. Well, almost white, since Dunne noted three of the top 10 were “white zinfandels” which are pink. Dunne reports the single best-selling wine in the nation's restaurants last year was the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay. Rounding out the top 10 were the Beringer Vineyards White Zinfandel, the Cavit Pinot Grigio (from Italy), the Sutter Home White Zinfandel, the Woodbridge Chardonnay, the Inglenook Chablis (from California, despite its name), the Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio (from Italy), the Yellow Tail Chardonnay (from Australia), the Almaden Mountain Chablis and the Franzia Winetaps Vintner Select White Zinfandel. And where was the red entry? Not surprisingly (remember, the list is based on customer requests), the most popular red wine, at 11th on the list, was Yellow Tail Shiraz from Australia. Chardonnay easily was the favorite varietal requested at restaurants, accounting for nearly 43 percent of sales. Forty-one of the 105 wines in the magazine's complete list were chardonnays. Pinot grigio appears to white wine rising most dramatically in popularity, accounting for 10 of the 105 wines, eight of them from Italy. Perhaps that growing popularity was partly the reason why Oregon is easing its labeling regulations and now will allow its winemakers to use either pinot gris or pinot grigio on its labels. Prior to these changes, Wine Business Insider reported this week, regulations passed in 1977 said only pinot gris was allowed on the bottle.

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