This year, 14 restaurants in six cities are participating in the return of "National Wine Week" by offering free glasses of wine, from a wide variety of wineries, to their lunch customers from March 20 through 24.
The Smith & Wollensky New York Restaurant Group holds the event twice a year, in the spring and fall, encompassing all of the company's restaurants in Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Washington, D.C.
Alan Stillman, primary owner of the restaurant group, created the event to promote wine drinking to a wider audience. "It's a way of getting a soft education to the consumer, instead of the usual wine-and-cheese course," said Smith & Wollensky wine director Danny Thames.
The participating restaurants are expected to pour more than 20,000 bottles, including wines from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Robert Mondavi, King Estate, Matanzas Creek, Rosemount, Dom Pirignon, Opus One and Cakebread. Representatives from the wineries are scheduled be on hand to discuss the wines and answer questions.
"We always felt people were afraid of trying new wines," Thames said. "This makes them more open to tasting, although we lose a substantial amount of money."
The restaurants are pouring from nine to 12 wines per day for free, but customers must order a meal to partake in the tastings. Reservations are necessary, so call early to get a seat at the time and place you want. For more information about Wine Week, call (800) 638-6449, ext. 51.
Restaurants participating in Wine Week:
Smith & Wollensky -- (312) 670-9900
Mrs. Park's Tavern -- (312) 280-8882
Park Avenue Cafi -- (312) 944-4414 -- Dinner only
Smith & Wollensky -- (702) 862-4100
Smith & Wollensky -- (305) 673-2800
Smith & Wollensky -- (504) 561-0770
Smith & Wollensky -- (212) 753-1530
Maloney & Porcelli -- (212) 750-2233
Park Avenue Cafi -- (212) 644-1900
Citi and Citi Grill -- (212) 956-7100
The Manhattan Ocean Club -- (212) 371-7777
The Post House -- (212) 935-2888
Smith & Wollensky -- (202) 466-1100
Maloney & Porcelli -- (202) 478-8300
Learn more about wine week: