Is it the right thing to do, when picking a house wine, to pick something easily recognizable?
Fine dining. I've written many wine lists in the past but my bar manager, who has been alive fewer years than I have been in the business, insists I should not use Woodbridge because "you can buy that in the grocery store". Never run up against this 'logic' before
No, instead differentiate yourself from everyone else. Your house wine is an opportunity for you to distinguish your establishment. Be bold, be fresh, have fun picking the wine that will "represent" your business. You can still have the recognizable favorites on the menu, but, to me, a house wine should be special to the restaurant--it's great it's special hence you've made it your house wine.