I recently dined at Seasons 52 Fresh Grill in South Coast Plaza, and found the wine program to be exceptional, both for the scope of its extensive wine list, and it’s attentive wine service. It’s gratifying to see that the restaurant, which promotes a healthy diet and prides itself in seasonally inspired cooking with every item on the menu less than 475 calories, considers wine an important part of a wholesome lifestyle.
The wine list was carefully selected by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, and received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2013. On a single large page on the back of the menu, the wines are organized by varietal, with a short but helpful description of the character of the wines in each category. The list is evenly divided into Whites (44 wines, 33 available by the glass), and Reds (52 wines, 32 by the glass).
The by-the-glass program is particularly impressive, with a wide range priced from $7.50 to $19. The pours are about 6 ounces (1/4 of a bottle) and priced as such. Before they pour a glass, the well-informed servers bring the bottle to the table, a nice touch that guarantees you’ll receive exactly what you ordered. Wines are served at the proper temperature, and in the proper stemware for each varietal.
A wide gamut of varietals is offered so that you can be assured of the perfect pairing with the restaurant’s eclectic cuisine. Whites include chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc, riesling, viognier, gewürztraminer, vinho verde, chenin blanc, grüner veltliner, and white zinfandel. I tried an unusual viognier from Spain at $9 a glass that was thoroughly satisfying with the cider-glazed grilled chicken skewers. Reds include the usual suspects, such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, and zinfandel, but also grenache, monastrell, tempranillo, sangiovese, carmenere, cabernet frank, and malbec.
Bottle prices are average for many Orange County restaurants, at 2½ to 3 times retail. A number of good wines are offered in the $30 to $34 price range. A few cult wines are offered to please wine connoisseurs, and they include Caymus Special Selection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($232), Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($116), Twomey Napa Valley Merlot ($96), and Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay ($96).
Corkage is a reasonable $15, and is waived if a bottle is purchased off the restaurant’s wine list.
Wine bottles denote whether the program is (1) Good, (2) Very Good, (3) Excellent, or (4) Outstanding on every level. Pricing: $ mostly under $24; $$, under $50; $$$, $50 and over.