Alinea - wine list or pairings?

I’ll be eating at Alinea for the first time this week and was wondering about their wine (duh!).

The wine list isn’t posted online so I can’t check it out ahead of time. With all the small courses I’d guess that it would be difficult to select bottles but I’ve often had bad luck with restaurant selected wine pairings.

Can anyone tell me what their list is like or what experiences you’ve had with their pairings?


Tough thing w/ Alinea is that the food is soo far out there, it would be tough to try and pair yourself.

Rowdy went about 2wks ago and I haven’t had a chance to talk w/ him about the wine pairings, but I do know there are some new world wines being poured.

Order from the list. From my three visits, that is my experience. There are some nice Burgs, not great priced, but worth the investment. Two of those visits were accompanied by Lafarge Clos des Chênes which were perfect.

Most of the pairings were pretty meh or worse. You will not like the many US wines they match. Non-wine pairings were the best. If there is a pairing that really looks interesting to you, they will serve it. Last summer, they served the Palmer XIX with a Nineteenth Century homage dish. In fact, they often inflicted the pairing on us whether we wanted it or not. A lot of dishes are single or two bites and not worth pairing specifically. Better to have a wine you really like to span the courses.

For you specifically, if they have the really old pu-erh tea on the menu, get it. A Burg-lovers tea nirvana. Worth the $$$$.

Have fun!


Thank you both! Sounds like the list is the way to go for me.

Thanks for the tea rec Andrew. I’ve been meaning to start trying out some pu-erh, so this may be a good opportunity.

I mostly agree with Andrew. The only place where I disagree is that I think the pairings are pretty good in the two times I have gone with the pairing. But I was very pleased off the list, too. Make sure that whatever you pick will go with what they are serving that night.


For Jay’s tastes (which are fairly in line with mine), the large amount of Cali wines and/or modernly-styled ones will be a turn-off.


Last time I went the pairing were really well done and almost all old world. Talk to them tell them your tastes. I told them I preferred old world, I don’t know if that changed things. They have more than 1 wine selected to go with each course. There is no way they serve a wine you don’t like.

Also the menu is not traditional savory to sweet, light to heavy i.e white to red. It goes back and forth, ebbs and flows all over so you would certainly have to have multiple bottles open at the same time.



We were there in June and found the wine list prices fantastic. we had the 05 Mugnier Musigny for $450 and the 04 Raveneau MDT for $160. I think the prices were outstanding.

I’ve gone both ways. Once I see the menu and the proposed pairings, I make my decision whether to go the pairings or the list. It is a bit frustrating not having a chance to review the list in advance, but I’ve had good experiences by the bottle and with the pairings.

According to Achatz’s facebook/twitter they are currently redoing the menu. They have removed the choice of Grand Tour vs the shorter tasting and are only going with one menu. I am sure it will be great. He says it is 21 courses now and it isn’t long enough in terms of time. [thumbs-up.gif]


Yes, I just heard that today as well. Makes one decision easier anyway.

Nick - That’s a great price on the Mugnier, albeit much more than I usually spend at a restaurant. Was it drinking well? I’ve been leery of '05s given that many (but not all) have shut down.

Given the varying opinions I may wait until I’m there on the 10th and just look over the wine list and ask about the pairings and decide then. I wish I could see the wine list ahead of time, I have the feeling it might end up killing more time than several of my dinner companions will find enjoyable :slight_smile:.

It is not as epic as some. Still a really good list, just managable to look over.

Call them. I think they will send it to you.


Kris & I were underwhelmed by the pairings. I wish I would have left the wine in my hands.

Thanks, that’s a good idea. I’ll give it a try.

Unfortunately they would not send the list. They offered to have a sommelier call me but since they aren’t in on Mon or Tue nights and I’m busy Wed and Thu nights and I leave for Chicago on Friday morning that doesn’t help. I guess I’m stuck with reading the list when I arrive.

This is one of those really, really annoying restaurant policies.

The list isn’t so large that it’s cumbersome to read. Plus if your like me it’s easy to just look at the burg section. to be honest it’s what I’d recommend with the food anyway. Maybe some reisling for a white if you desire. I also haven’t heard great things about the pairings, I believe they strive to do more unusual matches that don’t interest me. When we were there they were pouring an Italian sparkling rose. That’s all I needed to hear. I’m a self confessed label whore.

The Mugnier was pretty closed but I couldn’t pass up the oportunity to try it at that price. Now I’ll leave mine alone for 20 years. I normally don’t spend that much on a bottle either but again it was a once in a lifetime thing. Enjoy and report back.

I was hoping that they changed their song on this one. Sorry to hear they haven’t.

I was just there last week. The pairing is, IMO, very expensive for what they pour. I asked pretty specifically what we were going to get for a couple hundred pp, and they named only regions where there are few and far between pricey wines, which told me all I needed to know.

We drank '00 Roulot Vireuls for $100, and '78 Lopez Todonia Riserva for $195. Had they not sold us a, again IMO nasty, “sparkling wine cocktail” I would have bought the '00 PPeters BdB at $100 to get started.

Enjoy, it is really awesome. Too bad they are going to one menu, as I can’t imagine anything other than the Grand Tour!

Nick - drop me a line, I have '08 Carillon BBM, '07 Roulot Perrieres, '07 Roulot Poruzot coming to Domaine Wine Storage, and a handful have your name on them if you are still interested.


Well, that sounds like good pricing all around. And good options if I don’t see a Burg that strikes my fancy. I don’t suppose the PP was the “Les Chetillons” bottling? I love that wine (in fact I have one on deck to open on the 16th).

We were there in March, did the pairing, and were very pleased, because there were some interesting wines that we would never have the opportunity to try otherwise.

(Best meal of my life, btw.)

But the reason I pulled out this quote is because I wanted to mention that Volt in Frederick, MD, has to be the worst pairing deal in the world. They poured several glasses of wine that retail for less than $20/bottle. It was almost comically insane. /threadjack