Overview or written list of the offered alcoholic products, services and prices of a gastronomic business. Usually not only wines are included, but also spirits, beers and non-alcoholic beverages. In some cases, a wine list also lists the conditions for the enjoyment of wines brought along for example in closed societies (see under corkage money). In most cases, the wine list is included in a menu and is only kept separately in more upscale restaurants with a larger selection of wines. In most cases, printed matter in bound or stapled form is used for this purpose, but the information can also be provided by means of inscriptions on notice boards and posters.
Information about the range of food and drinks available in a restaurant was certainly available in ancient times, especially from the Romans and Greeks. A colourful picture of the eating and drinking culture of the Roman upper class in the first century is described by the Roman poet Petronius (+66) in his famous work Satyricon. In the city of Pompeii, which was destroyed during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, tavern price lists for wine were found on the walls of the excavations. Among other things, the famous Falerno wine was offered: For one ace you get wine, for two ace the best, and for four ace Falernian. Wine lists were also found in Egyptian tombs, such as that of the pharaoh Tut-Ench-Amun, but they probably corresponded more to inventories.
Food and drink menus in their present form only came into being in Europe with the advent of better eating places in the 17th century and were initially reserved for such places. In simple inns, the guest was informed orally about the offer, firstly because it was usually not very extensive and secondly because most people could not read. Later on it was common practice in inns to hang capitalized boards on the wall informing about the available food and drinks. Today the wine list (menu) is the visiting card for a restaurant.
Only if there is a larger selection available, and not just four or five wines, or perhaps only "red wine or white wine" at all, can one assume that wine culture is cultivated in this restaurant. The gourmet guide A la Carte gives one to three bottles for the wine culture (wine selection, glass culture, service) of a restaurant. In top gastronomic establishments there are wine lists with often several hundred labels. To "read" them correctly and to choose the right wine to go with the food requires good knowledge. There is no shame in getting advice from a sommelier.
An original wine list can be found in the restaurant "Alte Burg" in Dreieich-Dreieichenhain south of Frankfurt a. M. (Hessen). This tells a story in the form of single vineyard names: After a young man had drunk the "Klüsserather Bruderschaft" with the "Hallgartener Jungfrau", he walked with her along the "Wawerner Ritterpfad", lifted her "Trabener Brautrock" and with the "Oestricher Hand" removed the "Wachenheimer Gerümpel", touched her "Naumburger Engelgrube" and intoxicated himself with her "Liebfrauenmilch". Then he laid her with the "Kröver Nacktarsch" on a low, mossy "Zeltinger Steinmauer", which was an "Ockfener Bockstein" for him, whereupon the "Brauneberger Juffer(Jungfer)" got her first tap in earlier years.
Now the young man took out his "Nackenheimer Stiel" and put it with an elegant "Thörnischer Ritsch" into her "Zeller Schwarze Katz", on which a "Piesporter Goldtröpfchen" was hanging. Both were now in the "Graacher Himmelreich". But after a few days he had a "Brauneberger Hasenläufer" and with her the "Zeltinger Rotlay" was missing. She therefore had to go to the "Bernkasteler Doctor". The father had got wind of it and kicked the young man with the strength of an "Oppenheimer sack bearer" into his "Rüdesheimer back house". You damned "Eschendorfer Lump", you "Kallstadter Saumagen" he shouted at him, went to the "Merder Hell" and threw the young man down the "Erdener Treppchen".
Now a small list of restaurants that can compete for first place in the league "most extensive or original wine list in the world". The "Bremer Ratskeller" was already founded in 1405 and is therefore one of the oldest wine cellars in Germany. In the 14th and 15th century, one could only choose between two varieties of "Rhenish wine", which were the "Gemeine" and the "Better". Today the wine list contains 650 names, all of which are German wines. In the restaurant "Gasthof Schwarzer Adler" in the municipality of Vogtsburg-Oberbergen in Baden-Württemberg (Franz Keller Winery), the wine list comprises 2,000 items, with the main focus on Bordeaux wines.
In Austria, one of the top candidates is the "Berghotel Tulbingerkogel" near Vienna. The wine list of the house includes a total of 1,300 labels from all over the world. In the restaurant guide of Wine Spectator, in which the wine lists of over 400 restaurants worldwide are evaluated, this restaurant has already received the "Award of Excellence" 15 times. The "Harveys Restaurant" in Bristol (England) in the house of the famous wine trading company Harvey's is said to have one of the most extensive wine offerings in the world. The German Wine Museum in Oppenheim has a collection of wine lists with around 50 exhibits from the 19th and 20th centuries, which are important in terms of the history, scope, design, content and position of the restaurants.
The record holder is clearly the world-famous restaurant La Tour d'Argent in Paris, in whose cellar 450,000 wines are stored. For "Wine and food culture", see also Decanting, Cooking wine, Most expensive wines, Wine address, Wine evaluation, Wine enjoyment, Wine glasses, Wine cellar, Wine temperature and Wine with food.