Everyone’s got a favorite “haunt.” For me, it’s Chinois Asian Bistro. If you’re traveling in the Healdsburg area of Sonoma County, Windsor is just minutes down the road. This small town doesn’t have the crowds that are becoming associated with Healdsburg, but has every bit of the delightful flavors of wine country.

Certainly my first draw to Chinois was that it’s a fairly new, neighborhood restaurant. That’s just gotta be the first prerequisite. Who wants a favorite haunt half way around the world? It would make longing too much to bear when you’re hungry for your favorite dish. The next, important draw for me is always the food. I’m such a Finickie Foodie that it’s not easy to please my palate. I can usually only find one or two dishes on any menu that makes me want to return over and over again. So, how does it then happen that I’m able to enjoy just about everything on their menu? The chef must have my nearly exact food preferences, or maybe it’s because the dishes on the menu are so reminiscent of what I prepared for my kids when I was a stay-at-home mom-cook. During that time, my sister Merry had given a wok to me, and that’s when I really learned how to run (with food). Next important ingredient for a favorite haunt – because it’s a food & wine thing, after all – is the wine list. What makes for any great wine list?

  • Regionalism
  • Internationalism

What if that list – buried deeply into the heart and soul of Sonoma County – had all of those components, and still more? The “more” is a page dedicated to wine descriptions that seems to leave nothing to chance; however, Chinois’ sommelier Chang Liow still leaves nothing to chance by stating, “If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask for the sommelier’s advice.” The wine description page gives those familiar adjectives in seven categories:

  • BEGINNING WITH ~ Clean, Crisp, Light-bodied Whites:
  • everything in-between
  • ENDING WITH ~ Rich, Hearty, full-bodied Reds:

The cover page states, “In order to help you choose the wine to enhance your dining experience, each wine on our is has a color symbol that references the colored category and stylistic of the wine described below.” And, there’s the key to this great wine list… They’ve enhanced their wine list to have the flavors of the wine pre-tasted/evaluated for their customers, so that there are no surprises or misgivings BEFORE a wine is ordered. This also makes it very easy to pair the flavors of the dishes (also with great adjectives) with the flavors of the wines. Wine examples, so you know why I consider this list as an extraordinary one… CHARDONNAY: La Crema, Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2006 CHARDONNAY: Bouchard Pere Fils Corton-Charlemagne, 2005 “SPICY REDS:” Pax, Syrah, Castelli-Knights Vineyard, 2004 “SPICY REDS:” Custondian Grenache D’Arenberg, Australia FEATURED NEIGHBORHOOD WINES: MacMurray Ranch, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2006 Novy Cellars, Syrah, Sonoma Coast 2005