New Year's (wine) wish list


You walk into a restaurant for a quick lunch and decide to have a glass of wine with your meal. The wine is served and you proceed to consume most of it before your food arrives. Do you order a second glass, or do you prudently decline because it's really too early to begin happy hour? 

If it's me and I'm dining at one of my favorite San Diego haunts, Cafe Chloe, I follow the first glass of wine with a half-glass and finish lunch without the guilt. 

I don't have a crystal ball, but I certainly know some of the wine trends I would like to see in 2017. The half-glass of wine is one of them, for obvious reasons. Sometimes you want just a little more -- a full glass is too much. 

I'm surprised that more restaurants don't offer the half-glass option. I'm even more surprised when it's not offered at a restaurant that features an exceptional and carefully curated wine-by-the-glass (WBG) program. If a restaurant's WBG offerings are seriously interesting, I might want to try a selection. The half-glass format opens the door to exploration and exposes diners to wines they might otherwise be too timid to try, since a full glass of something unpleasant to the palate is too much. 

Now that so many restaurants have gone to measured pours for their wines by the glass, a half-glass pour should be a no-brainer. 

Another no-brainer is the screwcap closure now used on many white wines that are produced for immediate consumption. I have many friends who will always choose a screwcap wine over one with a traditional cork for the convenience aspect alone. 

For one thing, many everyday wine drinkers have not mastered the art of extracting a cork with a corkscrew. But the most important factor in their buying decision is how the bottle fits in their refrigerator. With a traditional cork, once you've poured a glass of wine you wedge the cork back into the bottle and return it to the fridge, but it doesn't always fit. With a screwcap bottle, not only will it fit but you can even lay it on its side if space is tight. 

So, if you're a producer with a lineup that includes sauvignon blanc, riesling, gewurztraminer, albarino or gruner veltliner (or any light, crisp white wine), make the move to screwcap closures sooner rather than later. It's one more reason for someone to pick your wine off the shelf rather than the wine of a rival who's stuck in the past. 

Corkage fees aren't going to go away anytime soon (nor should they), but I like the practice embraced by some restaurants of waiving the corkage fee on designated nights. This appeals to me on a number of levels, and it's not just about saving money. I know many serious wine collectors who resent having to pay a fee (sometimes as high as $50) to open their own wine in a restaurant. A designated night solves that problem. 

It also puts that restaurant on my radar for one of those nights when I want to open a special bottle from my wine collection in company with the ambiance and exceptional cuisine you might find in a fine-dining white-tablecloth eatery. 

I also encourage the practice of many restaurants of waiving the corkage fee if you also order a bottle from the restaurant wine list. We should all be sensitive to the necessity of corkage fees -- most restaurants need revenue from liquor sales to stay in business. But an occasional break in the fee is a welcome treat. I never expect it, but I always appreciate the gesture. 

Finally, I would like to see more restaurants turn to professional sommeliers to curate their wine program. The cheap way out is to let a sales rep or two determine the wine list. That's old school, and it doesn't cut it any longer in a world that is better-informed about wine than at any other time in history. 

No restaurant holds my interest for very long if it doesn't have a solid wine list that is designed to complement its cuisine, as well as a wine-by-the-glass program that offers variety combined with quality and value. 


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Cooking and Recipes

7 Day Menu
7 Day Menu

4/29 Family Sunday The family will give their approval for your Baked Walnut-Coated Chicken. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 4 chicken cutlets in a mixture of 3 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; then dip into 2 beaten egg whites. Next, roll chicken in 1 cup finely chopped walnuts. Bake on a nonstick foil-lined...
New coffee shop coming to Howell Mill Road from Cafe at Pharr owner
New coffee shop coming to Howell Mill Road from Cafe at Pharr owner

Cultivate will serve up coffee in the Collier Hills area. / Photo by Engin_Akyurt, Creative Commons More caffeine is coming to the Collier Hills area. Johnny Liu, who owns Cafe at Pharr, will open Cultivate coffee shop at 1952 Howell Mill Road next to the recently opened Howell’s Kitchen and Bar ...
Here’s everything you need to know about Taste of Marietta 2018
Here’s everything you need to know about Taste of Marietta 2018

For the last 24 years, one weekend has been more delicious than all others in Marietta. This year is no different. The 25th Taste of Marietta will be April 29, a Sunday, on Marietta Square and will feature more than 80 restaurants.  Courtney Spiess, who does public relations for the Marietta Visitors Bureau, said they are expecting...
Try a little bit of everything at Crafthall Kitchen, now open in Sandy Springs
Try a little bit of everything at Crafthall Kitchen, now open in Sandy Springs

The Jinju Bowl is on the menu of Bowl Cookhouse, one of the concepts at Crafthall Kitchen. / Photo by Ligaya Figueras A new eatery in Sandy Springs packs a lot of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner into a small space. Crafthall Kitchen opened earlier this month in the Perimeter Center West development at 1165 Perimeter Center West. Helmed by Jennifer...
Forget Napa Valley — Dahlonega’s wine country is just an hour away
Forget Napa Valley — Dahlonega’s wine country is just an hour away

At Kaya Vineyard and Winery, wines are made exclusively from estate-grown grapes planted with classic European, Italian and American varietals. Photo courtesy of Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber & Visitors Bureau It’s hard to believe that rolling hills of vineyards are located a little over an hour from Atlanta. But, that&rsquo...
More Stories