I would like some feedback on this one. I have been bringing my own wine to restaurants in the DC Area for the last few years and paying corkage fees---some of them rather steep. But I am starting to feel odd about this practice and would prefer to actually find a restaurant with a really good wine list (and of course really good food). To me, a great wine list isn't just about "size"...it's about what they "do with it". Mark-ups should be reasonable and there should be enough variety to draw you back for future visits. Oh there should also be an attempt to avoid wines that can easily be found at wine stores. Considering that restaurants buy their wine from the same distributors as wine retailers, this is quite a challenge and most restaurants do not rise to the occasion.
The worst feeling is going to a restaurant for, say, the third time, and having felt like you have exhausted all the choices on the list and feeling forced to order X wine that you know is available at less than half the price at Y wine store.
Food is also important. But I have been to way too many places that focus entirely on the food and not on the wine. Wine is only an afterthought to these places. And often the best food restaurants seem satisfied by just putting some heavy hitters on their list at exorbitant prices.
But this is so wrong especially since pleasure is not just a function of food and wine, but also monetary impact. The Inn at Little Washington is a great example. Often I find my pleasure being eroded by the thought of how much the meal is going to cost. The wine prices there are ridiculous and I shy away from the list because of this. I only feel half satisfied at these places because wine and food share equal importance to me. My greatest food moments are usually experienced when the wine is good and not breaking the bank.