Every few weeks, June Rodil, MS, can be found with scissors in hand, surrounded by construction paper and piles of brightly hued pencils. She isn’t working on a scrapbooking project. She’s making an old school ’zine, and the finished product will double as a colorful wine list at June’s All Day in Austin, Texas.
“It gives me an opportunity to do little cartoons, or present a little more information than just looking at a list,” says Rodil, vice president of operations and beverage director for McGuire Moorman Hospitality group, which operates the wine bar/café.
Rodil’s crafty presentation is just one of a small but growing number of drink menus designed to make selecting a bottle easier—and, yes, more fun. From regional wine maps to illustrations of pop culture icons, these new-wave wine lists are designed to appeal to visual learners.
Unusual formats and graphics break the ice between sommeliers and guests.
It was laden with scribbles, rough typefaces and rant-like essays. Rodil cites Grieco as an influence for her productions.
“I always admired his really big, Trapper Keeper-like wine list,” she says.
Unusual formats and graphics also break the ice between sommeliers and guests. Another top spot in Austin, Aviary Wine & Kitchen, likens wines to celebrities to break down what Beverage Director Alex Wheatley Bell calls the “intimidation factor.”
To give a point of reference and “immediately disarm the guest’s fears,” the wine list features caricatures of icons like rapper The Notorious B.I.G. to represent full-bodied wines that break the rules, and “Starman” singer David Bowie to identify innovative sparklers.
The list at Xixa, in Brooklyn, New York, also relies on well-known faces to convey the personality of its beverages. In this case, it highlights women who have earned a less-than-savory reputation: Scarlett O’Hara for “earthy, sensual” picks, Cleopatra for wines that are “powerful, structured, complex.”
Categories like these “give a playful way to begin exploring wine,” says Bell. It’s all about making wine accessible and relatable.