Picture yourself in a fancy restaurant known for its wine list. The host hands you a heavy leather volume, or maybe an iPad, to peruse pages upon pages of bottle selections.\r\n\r\nMaybe you\u2019re in the mood for something specific, so you navigate to the category you want. From there, you focus on a country, a grape and finally, you make a selection from 10\u201312 bottles. But if you don\u2019t have a predetermined wine in mind, you\u2019re left guessing what your companions like and what will complement their meals. Sure, the floor sommelier can help, and it\u2019s exciting to have s many options, but it can also add a layer of complication and intimidation.\r\n\r\nEnter the small wine list. If a big tome conveys gravitas and leather-bound luxury, a small printed list speaks to elegance, simplicity and ease. Instead of flipping through numerous pages of bottles before you even look at the menu, you can order wine at a glance and focus on your date, friends or family.\r\n\r\nA tight list that\u2019s well thought out will generally have a succinct selection of red, white, sparkling and ros\u00e9 wines. There might even be a few sweet selections to round it out.\r\n\r\nIf a big tome conveys gravitas and leather-bound luxury, a small printed list speaks to elegance, simplicity and ease.\r\n\r\nBut within each category, there\u2019s likely a varied-enough spectrum of offerings to choose from\u2014in other words, something for everyone, but not 20 things for everyone. All you have to do is decide on a style and trust that the wine director has made good choices.\r\n\r\nWhat does \u201cgood\u201d mean in this context? Overall quality, of course, but also the ability to pair with the menu. With a small list, not only is your choice easier, but the wines are more likely to complement each dish. Most chefs have a culinary esthetic, certain flavors or profiles that they favor. A sommelier who crafts a small wine list can take that into account and select bottles that share the chef\u2019s palate.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nA more narrow selection also encourages focus. Maybe a regional Spanish or Italian restaurant will pour bottles only from that area to create a sense of place. Maybe an establishment that traffics in organic, locally foraged, house-fermented foods will opt for a natural wine list to round out its ethos. As a person who can cook good food and drink good wine at home, I go out to eat specifically to get this sort of thoughtfully constructed experience.\r\n\r\nI don\u2019t think big lists are going away anytime soon, and that\u2019s fine. They have their place. But I will end on the strongest argument as to why the rise of small, thoughtful lists is a good thing: They\u2019re democratic. A lot of people find their way to wine through fine dining. A smaller list makes those early interactions accessible and enjoyable, and isn\u2019t enjoyment what wine\u2019s really all about?