Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Time to hit the topic of wine one more time. I mean, I'll hit the topic again. I'm not saying this is the last time. I just mean that here, once again, I will discuss wine.

Why are people so hung up about ordering bottles of wine?

In a recent post, Michale Bauer discussed the problem with "stale" wine at restaurants and wine bars. That is, wine that has been open for too long. The fact is, wine by the glass programs are in general bad for consumers, restaurants, and winemakers. Consumers get poorly handled wine, restaurants lose inventory, and winemakers suffer damaged reputations from the improperly handled wine.

A resturant should offer, at most, 4 glasses of red and 4 glasses of white (slightly different depending on cuisine) and then have a nice diverse list of reasonably prices wines by the bottle and, when possible, half-bottle.

Going back to the question though, what is the harm in ordering a bottle of wine? Unless you're dining alone it's not an obscene quantity of wine (there are only for or so restaurant-sized glasses in a bottle). Nor is it particularly expensive (same price as four glasses of wine, cheaper than four [or even three!] cocktails. And when you order a bottle you know that wine hasn't been oxidized. It is also more likely to have been properly stored (bottle wines are often stored some place out of the way whereas glass wines are out in the bar where temperatures can get pretty damn hot).

I think Americans are hung up on being perceived that they are drinking a lot. Having a glass of wine is medically acceptable, splitting a bottle is not. Nevermind that those same people go home and have another glass and a shot of Jaeger before bed.

I had an excellent (and expensive) dinner in LA and the owner told me that he was able to maintain an exquisite (and reasonably priced) wine list because he only offered wines by the bottle. He eliminated pouring cost and virtually eliminated lost inventory. The trade off? Consumers can't hedge their bets and taste a wine before committing. Who cares? A good restaurant is going to have a good wine list. Put your faith and trust in that. And if the wine truly sucks you can always reject it. Losing two bottles a week in returned wine is better than losing two bottles a day in overpours, changed minds, and complimentary tastes. If a restaurant has a quality half-bottle selection, then both the solo diner and the light drinking couple can enjoy the benefits of a fresh bottle. No room for excuses.

A fresh bottle of wine with a good meal is a beautiful thing. Spend the money and drink the wine. You'll be a better person for it.

1 comment:

Zack said...

Going back to the question though, what is the harm in ordering a bottle of wine?

Dude I've been plugging IPA and bourbon tonight, and I'll pop out of bed at 8:00 a.m. more fiercely than my own morning wood. We order a bottle of wine and the next day I am clawing off my own scalp until 2:00 p.m.