Wine List Once-Over: Bacio Rosso

Wait...there's wine at the new tented extravaganza in Queen Elizabeth Park?

Wait…there’s wine at the new tented extravaganza in Queen Elizabeth Park?

The Theme: Well let’s start with the theme of the event, shall we? It’s Moulin Rouge (which is French) meets Cabaret (which is German, no) but the food is Italian (by La Quercia’s Adam Pegg, who somehow serves a lovely Vitello Tonnato to a very large audience). The wine?  International, with an emphasis towards Italy. And I should note large parts of the show are interactive so if you’re an uptight WASP like me, wine is a necessity not an option.The First Impression: It’s a small list (just 15 bottles) for a restaurant but really quite large for a production like this. I can’t recall ever getting this sort of selection at a Cirque de Soleil production.The Steal: This is insane. Normally when you’re a captive audience like this you get absolutely pillaged with bad selection and high prices, but some saint has decided to reverse both trends here. My eyes were first drawn to the Checkmate End Game Merlot, from Anthony von Mandl’s relatively rare high end Oliver winery. This bottle is $85 at the winery and it’s only $119 here? Is this a mistake? It’s not, because then I see von Mandl’s amazing Martin’s Lane Simes Vineyard Riesling and it’s likewise less than double: $95, for a $55 wine. And lest you think von Mandl is underwriting the production, the Chateau Clarke 2010 (wrongly described on the list as Edmond de Rothschild, who’s the owner) is $99 for a $46 wine and the Fontanafredda Barolo is only $82 for a $40 wine. The Ferrari Trento Brut is $60 for a $30 wine. Crazy.The Not-So-Much: As you go lower in the list the markups become more standard—but standard by restaurant standards, which makes them still very well priced by event standards. The lovely Briccotondo Barbera by Fontanafredda is $49 for a $19 bottle of wine.Cool-Factor Bottle: This isn’t exactly wine geek territory, but even those von Mandl bottles are pretty inspired choices. And likewise, choosing the Canard Duchene Cuvee Leonie over Veuve, Moet or a more recognizable name as your champagne ($129 for a $60 bottle) shows some balls.The Head-Scratcher: Just the prices—seriously, who would ever expect less than a 2x mark-up at such an event. The absolute best sort of head scratcher.The Grade: A+ for effort, A- for selection. I’m never going to be happy paying $14 for a glass of overly warm Jackson-Triggs again.