Manager Rich Zellich assembled I Fratellini's daring all-Italian wine list. It is a balanced, innovative collection of about 50 bottles, supplemented by a reserve list of rarer wines. The Barolos, Chiantis, Dolcettos and Barbarescos match the restaurant's food perfectly -- that's only natural, given that Italy's cuisine and viticulture evolved together over centuries. Most restaurants stick with popular varietals -- primarily Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and white Zinfandel -- from large producers in California and France, without regard to what's coming out of the kitchen.
Finally, offering descriptions of each wine encourages diners to experiment. Zellich's tasting notes are dripping with superlatives that reveal his enthusiasm. Powerful, intense and wonderful! Full-bodied and silky! Supreme structure! It's delicious to read tidbits such as these: "Strawberry notes with saddle leather, spice and cedar" and "Earth, chocolate and violets on a powerful frame." Such vivid language lets customers know exactly what to expect when the bottle is uncorked, turning wine drinkers into wine lovers.