The reason for any wine program is to complement not only the food but also the guests’ needs—which, for Brasserie Beck, can change over time.
Ramon Narvaez, Brasserie Beck’s food and beverage director, knows his way around a bottle or two. He wrote the original wine list at Marcel’s and has now reshaped the one at Brasserie Beck. “When I started working with Chef Wiedmaier at Marcel’s over 12 years ago, we did not have a sommelier,” says Narvaez. “Given the quality of our cuisine, we needed one, and Chef Robert presented me with not only the opportunity but also the means to put me in that spot. He sent me to vineyards all over Europe to learn and taste, and then to wine classes here to qualify as a sommelier. I was extremely fortunate to have had that kind of training.”
At Marcel’s, Narvaez had to reorganize the list from the ground up. “Initially, Marcel’s was heavy on expensive French wines, and we needed balance. We cut the list down from 700 to 350 bottles and made sure everything was well represented in terms of regions and price.” When Beck opened in 2007, Narvaez was brought in to do the opening list, which today has been recognized with a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. “In the beginning, we showcased 50 wines under $50 and focused heavily on beer, given that we are a Belgian brasserie.” But soon the guests started wanting more: a broader variety in regions and price. “Given our wine reputation at Marcel’s, and the demographic we were attracting, our clientele demanded better wines.” The list grew slowly, hailing from all regions and price points. “Today, we fluctuate between 350 to 400 bottles, from $38 up.”