How Restaurant Wine Lists Are Sexist

Bad headline, on an otherwise good column. The list itself is not sexist. This piece is really about how the wine list is given to a table. The crux of this chef’s frustrations mirror mine – there’s only one list that everyone has to share, which doesn’t give patrons enough time to decide before the server tries to take a drink order.

The sexism, of course, stems from its history, which I’m glad the author included:

The one-wine-list convention harkens back to before the 19th-century creation of the modern restaurant concept, and as mentioned has everything to do with patriarchy. At Spanish dinner tables, for example, the head of the table (read: the father) would be given a traditional Spanish carafe of wine called a Porrón, which sported a long, tapered spout that facilitated reach and aim as he poured wine, at his sole discretion, directly into the mouths of his sons.

You’ll note I said, “sons,” because the mother and any daughters were not at the table – they were serving the meal.

Later, as haute cuisine took hold in France and then in America, stuffy maître d’s in long white aprons would present the head of the table with a menu and a wine list, and the lady would receive a food menu with no prices listed (she presumably should not worry her pretty little head about such things). 

Now if there’s sexism in the way the actual list is created, then that’s a story I’d really find interesting. 

How Restaurant Wine Lists Are Sexist

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