California rules the roost at Donovan's Steak and Chop House as well, but if you ask sommelier Drew Bushnell what he prefers, he'll tell you he likes the "higher acid, generally lower alcohol, and overall sense of complexity" he finds in French wines. "They tend to have flavors from all areas of the aroma wheel, instead of just one small slice of it." Of course, that's not to say that he works the French pages of his list above all else. "As a general rule, you try to find the best fit for the person who is actually going to be drinking it. I go ahead and ask them, 'What are some wines that you do like?' That gives me an idea of the style, and I go from there. It's fun to explore different palate preferences."
What he has been willing to do on behalf of his favorites is experiment with the list, and what he's found has proved interesting. "We have a very expensive Bordeaux section — almost everything in it is very expensive. People didn't even look at the page; they just looked down and thought, 'Oh, all French wines are so expensive. Where's the Napa Cab?' All I had to do is put a few $40-$80 selections on the page, and my French wine sales increased — and not even just on those $40-$80 wines. People started looking at the $150 selections. We've been trained to think that Bordeaux and Burgundy are only for the very, very rich — and a lot of the wines that make it onto the list are expensive. But there are some beautiful Bordeaux and Burgundy out there for less than $100 — restaurant pricing. Still, I can only buy so much French — what's actually moving is Cal Cab in the $60-$100 range."