SURPRISING: The wine list at Acadia.
Are you adventurous, curious and an avid wine drinker?
Of course you are. Because you’re an Arkansas Times reader and you voted Acadia as having the best wine list.
It’s no surprise.
The Hillcrest restaurant is known for its wine as much as for its food, always updating and diversifying its selections, and until last year Acadia employed a full-time sommelier.
Now the task of choosing wines falls to manager Gregory Robinson, who says he is always exploring new ideas for the wine list.
“It changes all the time, it’s constantly evolving,” Robinson said. “It’s partly based on availability of new wines. The thing I go for is to try to be a little progressive, finding new wines, looking at trends. I’m always trying to find the next big thing.”
One thing Robinson doesn’t do is craft the wine list around a theme. He doesn’t follow any conventions or organizing principles.
“On one menu, there will be by chance not a single American wine,” he said. “Usually it will be whatever I’ve tasted recently that I like. I don’t want to get stuck doing anything in particular. I try to stay away from the familiar.”
That means sometimes you might not be able to find a chardonnay anywhere on the wine list. And you’ll pay for the privilege to sample the unusual selections. Acadia’s wine prices are on the expensive side, with only a few bottles available for under $30.
It helps that chef and owner James Hale creates what Robinson calls “wine-friendly” food.
“His food so easy to match wine with, anything I do will work well,” Robinson said.
Still, Acadia’s success has as much to do with its open-minded clientele as it does with its ability to choose the right wines.
“We never have trouble selling wine,” Robinson said. “We don’t try to challenge patrons, but we try to open them up to different flavors and varietals they normally wouldn’t find.”
For example, Robinson experimented with German red wines, which are not normally popular. It turns out the customers loved them.
“It seems that people enjoy it more when we have really off-the-wall stuff,” he said.
— By Warwick Sabin