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Wine-by-the-glass — Tips on how to buy!
with thanks to The Wall Street Journal's
Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, "Tastings" columnists
Wines by the glass — a boon to solo diners/solo travelers?
Many of us would respond in the affirmative, unless, of course, we have plans for an entire special bottle,
like cultivating a favorite chef by sharing a glass or so with him or her.
Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, "Tastings" columnists for The Wall Street Journal, took
a personal look at the phenomenon, mindful of business people go to lunch together and who likely say, "I'd
like a glass of red . . ." They ordered wine by the glass during lunch at seven steak house chains in either
New York City or Washington, D.C. and shared their experiences in, "At Steakhouses, A Half-Empty Glass,"
March 12, 2005.
Solo diners owe them thanks! Their tips are bankable; they'll help you make better and more enjoyable wine-by-the
Gaiter and Brecher love trends like wine bars and fine restaurants that offer to pair a glass of wine with each
course of their tasting menus. However, they confessed near the outset of their story:
" . . .we rarely order a glass of wine at a restaurant. Partly it's the cost, which is often outrageously
high (though we sympathize, up to a point, with restaurateurs, who have to deal with waste, breakage, storage and
service). The bigger problem for us is often that the wine is yucky, either because it was second-rate to begin
with or because it has been sitting open for days."
Their steak house chain experiment reaffirmed for them their belief in the wisdom of avoiding most wines by
the glass, as the title, " . . . A Half-Empty Glass," indicates. However, unless you decide to follow
Gaiter's and Brecher's lead and forego wine-by-the-glass, the following tips will help you keep your glass pleasurably
Ask for a wine-by-the-glass menu, rather than order a generic "red" or "white."
Gaiter and Brecher:
When we pressed the waiter on whether there was a wine-by-the-glass list, he finally produced one — after telling
us he wasn't sure whether the latest one had been printed yet. This is when we made the unhappy discovery that
there were four Chardonnays by the glass, and the one we got was the most expensive (it was $12.95; the others
were $6.95, $8.95 and $9.95). There were two Merlots — and again, we got the more expensive ($11.95 versus $7.95).
If you are going to have two glasses of the same wine, consider ordering a half bottle instead.
Gaiter and Brecher:
A half bottle of wine will likely be in better condition, it might well be less expensive than two glasses
— and at least you'll know what you're getting and how much it costs.
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