So exactly how much flexibility does a guy have in modifying an all-Spanish wine list?
Enough, it turns out, to keep Solera assistant general manager Jay Viskocil busy for the last several months.
For starters, the Hennepin Av. tapas mecca now offers up a wider range of reds from Iberia.
“We basically expanded the core, added a couple of regions like Yecla,” Viskocil said. “Yecla wasn’t a region that I loved, but I found some wines that I loved from there. We also scaled down the whites.
“The biggest thing was finding a really good representation of each region. You can’t just have the whole [importer] Eric Solomon book. We tweaked by-the-glass a little, but the focus was more on the really popular regions – Toro, Catalunya, Ribera del Douro. We put in a few more Riojas and Priorats.”
Viskocil took on two more tasks:
Educating the staff on pairings: Many of executive chef Jorge Guzman’s new dishes taste complex (and delicious). But “our cooking style is very minimalist,” said Guzman, who migrated here from the Yucatan via St. Louis. He and Viskocil give all the servers a handout with the ingredients in each dish, and all the bartenders and waitstaff sample every dish and discuss the elements that might lead to good wine matches.
Making customers more comfortable with Spanish wines: “With an all-Spanish list,” Viskocil said, “the most important thing is to translate from California or France. So if someone says they like oaky, buttery chardonnays, I know what to get them.”
The list itself is impressive, both for its regional breadth and prices. Any wine list that includes 10 bottles at $30 or under, and well-chosen bottles at that, works for me.