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Drinking Out Loud

Three Things They Don't Want You to Know

Who's "they," you ask? It's restaurants, retailers, wineries and, yes, wine writers

Matt Kramer
Posted: May 15, 2012

1. They Don't Want You to Know About Wines by the Glass. Let me be blunt: If you go to a restaurant and buy a wine by the glass, you're a chump. Oh sure, maybe at one or another exceptional restaurant it's a good thing to do because the place offers unusual or rare wines by the glass.

But for most restaurants, most of the time, the wine-by-the-glass formula makes highway robbery look like a misdemeanor.

You know what the current formula is for many wine-by-the-glass programs? It's this: The first pour pays for the bottle. In other words, you are charged as much for one glass as the entire bottle costs the restaurateur.

Remember, the restaurant is paying wholesale for its wine, not retail. So when you fork over $10 for that glass of bland, commercial Pinot Grigio, that's what the bottle cost the restaurant, give or take a buck or two.

Of course, nobody in the trade wants you to think too hard about this. Restaurateurs will rush to defend themselves, citing service, glasses (broken or otherwise), employee costs and so forth. And there's a lot of pious talk about how by-the-glass selections have improved in quality. Maybe so, but have you noticed that the prices have gone up commensurately?

Restaurants see one helluva margin on wines by the glass. And if you really want to see a breathtaking markup, try ordering a "sangria" at your favorite tapas place. (Do you think all those bulk wines from Central Valley only wind up in trailer parks?)

The smart restaurant customer buys a bottle, not a glass. That way, you are not only better able to ensure that the wine you drink will be superior to anything offered by the glass, but even at restaurant prices you'll be getting a far better deal.

2. They Don't Want You to Know About "Premox." What's "premox"? It's shorthand for premature oxidation. And it's plaguing white Burgundies to such an extent that Burgundy’s wine producers really don't want you to think too much about it.

The short version of the story is this: As is well-known, Burgundy's greatest Chardonnays both deserve and reward extended cellaring, upwards of 20 years or more. These great white Burgundies, from vineyards designated premier and grand cru, actually require long-term cellaring in order for their virtues to be revealed. To drink a grand cru white Burgundy without at least five to seven years of aging from the vintage date is to waste your money.

Burgundy lovers know this. And they willingly plunk down sometimes hundreds of dollars a bottle when the wines are first released, only to sequester them in their cellars for the better part of a decade for a better tomorrow.

Here's the kicker: Starting with the 1995 vintage, that "better tomorrow" often didn't arrive. White Burgundies that should have been gloriously fresh-tasting, vibrant and dimensional five or seven years after the vintage proved to be nothing of the sort. In fact, they were dead, victims of what has come to be called premature oxidation. Affected wines have a dark yellow hue (where they should be a vibrant lemon-yellow); the scent is oxidized, almost Sherry-like; and the flavor is flat, devoid of fruitiness, essentially shot. This for wines that should just be beginning to become mature.

Why did this seem to begin with 1995? Nobody knows. But what is known is that it got even worse with Burgundy's 1996 vintage, which Burgundy lovers everywhere felt at the time was one of the greatest white Burgundy vintages of modern times. The young wines were simply glorious. The white Burgundies from the Chablis zone were truly magnificent. Let me put it bluntly: Most of these wines are now dead from premox. Not all, but most. Personally, I've poured more than a dozen cases of 1996 premier cru and grand cru white Burgundies down the drain, all dead from premox. A few somehow dodged the plague, but most did not.

At first, the Burgundians were in denial. Then, as the evidence mounted vintage after vintage, they acknowledged that something clearly was amiss. But what? Here the mystery deepens.

After spending a substantial amount of money and investigating seemingly every imaginable cause—corks, sulfur, lees contact, pressing techniques, barrel aging, oxygen exposure, vineyard yields and much more—nobody has established a definitive reason for the premature oxidation of Burgundy's great white wines. (It's not a problem for the reds because red wines have more built-in protection against oxidation, such as tannins and other compounds commonly found in red wines but not in whites.)

What about the latest vintages, you ask? Who knows? Typically it takes three to five years for the symptoms to emerge. And since nobody can definitively say that the problem has been identified and solved—believe me, the Burgundians would be shouting from the rooftops if they had—nobody can say that the problem is behind us. Certainly, every vintage of white Burgundy since 1995 has shown signs of premox to varying degrees.

The maddening thing is that if you buy a case of the same wine, you find that not every bottle exhibits this premox thing. Maybe half the case does, maybe more. And some producers' wines didn't or don't seem to suffer from premox anywhere near as much as others.

Now, this plague of premature oxidation is hardly a secret. It's been the talk—and tale of woe—of Burgundy lovers everywhere. But outside of Burgundy enthusiast circles, you don't hear much about it. Why? Well, it's not good business. Why would retailers—or importers or distributors—point it out to you? Best to keep mum.

And you can't blame the Burgundy producers for keeping it low profile. After all, they're victims too. They really don't know what, if anything, they're doing wrong.

As for us wine writers, here again it's a tricky bit of business. Buying white Burgundies is hardly a universal practice among one's readers. It's only a tiny slice of the market. And besides, do you want to be the one to say, "Don't buy white Burgundy"? That's pretty harsh. People’s livelihoods are involved. Besides, premox doesn't happen to every white Burgundy, every time. And most buyers tend to drink the wines very young anyway.

I'll say this much: If you buy white Burgundies today, you're well-advised to drink 'em young, probably within five years, at most, of the vintage.

Make no mistake: Premox is real. And there's no evidence that the problem has been resolved. Given the high prices commanded by white Burgundies today, if you're buying these wines to age, as was once the right and proper thing to do, you'd better take a look at the odds.

3. They Don't Want You to Know That You Should Shop Around for the Best Price. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I assure you that—if my experience is anything to go by—most wine buyers assume that wine prices are the same everywhere. Big mistake.

Now, if your wine buying consists of picking up a single bottle at a time, then shopping around makes no sense for you. Find a store convenient to your home and look for a sympathetic clerk.

But if you're somebody who's willing to buy six bottles or more at a time of high-priced wines, then as the song says, you better shop around. This becomes ever more true the higher the price per bottle.

Now, when I say "shop around" I'm not talking about just looking in your locality. I'm talking about spreading the net nationwide. Today, an increasing number of states legally allow direct-to-consumer wine purchases.

According to Wine Institute, a trade group, 40 states now allow consumers to have wines shipped to them from out of state. The regulations vary, but this outline alone shows a dramatically changed landscape. (And it looks increasingly likely that the U.S. Congress will soon allow the Postal Service to serve as a carrier for wine shipments, which it currently is prohibited from doing.)

Today, all sorts of websites offer information about the availability of wines from retailers worldwide. If you're buying expensive wines, especially in any sort of quantity, you'd be crazy not to check out the competition. For example, a number of retailers in Oregon will sell you a full case of a single wine at their wholesale cost plus 10 percent. Shipping cross-country might add four bucks a bottle to the tab, if that. And it's half that cost if the distance is shorter.

As you might imagine, nearly everybody in the wine business would rather you didn't know how variable prices can be nationwide. Some markets are unusually competitive (Washington, D.C., Los Angeles). Yet others support highly specialized merchants that go to elaborate lengths to secure and offer wines rarely seen elsewhere or that specialize in small, local producers (New York, San Francisco, Portland, Ore.).

Bottom line: Importers, distributors and, especially, retailers would like you to believe that you can't do better elsewhere. But often you can—especially at the high end.

Todd Wielar
Chapel Hill, NC —  May 15, 2012 12:12pm ET
Wow... another short-sighted article from Mr. Kramer. Wine is a commodity, now, is it? Don't worry about provenance, storage conditions, return policies, etc. - just buy the lowest price you can find!

Brilliant! I should just shut my doors and start advertising the lowest price online.

Except, of course, it isn't that simple. Shipping in refrigerated containers or trucks costs money. Maintaining a consistent storage temperature costs money. Willingly accepting returns on faulty wines with no hope of recouping from the distributor or the winery costs money. Opening many of these same bottles for consumers to taste before buying costs money.

Having trained, educated staff on hand to make sure that the highly rated, expensive bottle you are buying is actually something that you are going to enjoy because it fits your tastes? Why, Mr. Kramer, guess what that costs?

Certainly, don't just buy local for the sake of buying local. Shop around to find a store that offers fair prices but also one that offers quality, service and experience. The most reputable stores will give you a fair price - and everything else. You may pay a little more here and there, but I bet it evens out - and then some - after you've poured a bottle down the drain of heat-damaged wine purchased from a sketchy online outfit.
Philip A Chauche
Germantown, MD —  May 15, 2012 12:38pm ET

Great column, as always. I live in the D.C. area, taking advantage of inefficiencies in the market. I've been amazed at prices I can get here, but not in Dallas or Denver when I visit. I've long wondered whether brand managers choose a single market to discount their excess supplies, while keeping prices stable in other parts of the country.

Sad news about white burgundies. I'm amazed there is no explanation being proffered at all.
Aaron Meeker
Kansas City, KS —  May 15, 2012 12:42pm ET
Matt, you want to talk "highway robbery" at a restaurant/bar, have a look at anything resembling a cocktail. The average "well" cocktail is say, $5? A bottle of "well" liquor runs about $9/liter? Get around 22 1.5 ounce pours out of a bottle?

That "well" bottle goes from $9 to $110.

Doesn't get much better with the premium brands and what kind of provenance does a bottle of liquor need or respectable glassware?
Harvey Steiman
San Francisco, CA —  May 15, 2012 3:01pm ET
No question wines by the glass are a bad deal in terms of percentage. But in dollars? Maybe not. I often order a white wine by the glass in a restaurant, knowing full well I am paying a high markup, because I want to drink a full bottle of a good red with most of my dinner. I may be paying $12 for glass that would be $40 for the bottle, most of which I would not drink. That makes some sense, doesn't it?
David W Voss
elkhorn, Wi —  May 15, 2012 5:32pm ET
The worst part about by-the-glass wines is the lack of appropriate storage. At any of my local restaurants I now drink a good craft beer instead of oxidized, at best tasteless wines from a bottle that has been open at least three days too long. I would rather that casual restaurants only served boxed wines which will at least last longer.
Geneva, IL —  May 15, 2012 5:57pm ET
All true, well said. The points made in these three segments should already be apparent to any dedicated wino but it's great to see these three subjects covered as a group in WS. Run this piece at the front of the book for about 20 issues.

However, anyone who doesn't mind paying $20-25 for a glass of Veuve or pouring yet another young bottle of white Burgundy down the drain needn't read this. And anyone in the retail wine business who doesn't take internet price transparency into consideration proceeds at their own risk. It is possible to find a great combination of fair pricing and excellent provenance.
David N Burke
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada —  May 15, 2012 6:04pm ET
Matt, I want back the 5 mins of my life it took to read your OPINION on "by the glass" wines...
Thousand Oaks, Ca —  May 15, 2012 6:17pm ET
If I am traveling alone, I am stuck getting wine by the glass, unless the restaurant offers half-bottles. I don't see any way around it. Restaurants can and do take advantage of solo travelers.
Park Walker
US —  May 15, 2012 10:28pm ET
I've found that drinking half the bottle when traveling alone is sometimes a better value than buying by the glass, and offering the rest of the bottle to a neighboring dinner is often very much appreciated.
Tom Wark
Napa, CA —  May 15, 2012 10:37pm ET
On the issue of shopping around, it's important to note that only 14 states allow out-of-state retailers to ship in wine. Those 14 states where wine can be sent from out of state retailers include, CA, OR, NM, ND, MO, NE, LA, VA, WV, DC, NH, AK, WY, NV.

Wineries are indeed able to legally ship to 40 states. The states treat wineries and retailers differently, to the dismay of both consumers and retailers. In addition, wholesalers and Attorneys General have promoted an interpretation of the principles of the Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court case to mean that only wineries must be protected from state-based discrimination. Two courts have said retailers are covered by Granholm and two have said they are not. What's needed to break open the direct to consumer retailer market is a new Supreme Court decision.
David Lerer
Indialantic, FLorida, USA —  May 16, 2012 8:32am ET
Matt, well you obviously know how to stir up controversy evey time you write. While all of your points have some validity, you again spend too little time covering the topics adequately, often misleading new wine drinkers, and inciting lots and lots of opposing views from long time wine lovers. Your take on Burgundy is well put, but shopping online for the best prices as the only consideration for wine buying, and not buying wine by the glass is short minded, especially for someone as wine educated as you. Harvey makes a great point for wines by the glass, and I like to ask about corkage at restaurants with a poor btg list.
robert capria
Virginia Beach Virginia USA —  May 16, 2012 10:47am ET
Matt, I agree on most of your points. I find the wine by the glass as an adventure in tasting. The wine by the glass is usually old and not very good. I find it is always to my advantage to go through my wine collection and match my pick with what I am eating. I pay my corkage and enjoy a FREASH bottle that I know is good. Occasionally, I will go to the rest early and have them decant the wine for me. :)))
Morewine Bishar
Del Mar, California —  May 16, 2012 1:27pm ET

Sorry to say, your third point seems to boil down to only buying over the great and powerful internet, forget the relationships with your real, live wine merchants. I bet you only buy books on Amazon, don't you? Tried to find a good independent bookstore lately? Good luck!

Forcing everyone to sell at unsupportable low margins as practiced by some online outlets may please your pocketbook, but that practice destroys jobs, closes independent stores keeps honest wine merchants driving old cars! Ever try to talk your doctor in to cutting you a deal on some much needed surgery? Get a cut-rate on your child's education?

Surely you know by now that it is the wine merchant that you have an on-going relationship with that gets you those rare "allocated" gems when a sudden 95 point score sends everyone to their keyboards at the same instant.

Matt, I'm not happy with you today. (I'll get over it.)

David Clark
for The Wine Connection

Hugh L Sutherland Jr-m
miramar beach, fl —  May 16, 2012 1:56pm ET
When my wife and I eat out, we each order a wine by the glass and then request 4 glasses. We enjoy splitting the glass. When the meal is served, we frequently order two more different wines and split them. This gives us a chance to taste 4 wines instead of just one if we order a bottle. We often find one or two wines that we enjoy enough to buy some at the local dealer.
Jim Mason
St. John's —  May 16, 2012 4:05pm ET
My wife and I usually dine out with friends, so 4-6 of us can easily split a full bottle of wine. And we all know the formula: generally order appetizers that work with a sparkler or a white and order entrees that work with something off the red list. Sometimes there is a dissenter or two who wants a white fish main that likely won't work with the Brunello the rest of us want, so by the glass might become a necessity. We tend not to dine with such folks more than once.

Better yet, learn to cook for yourself and have some friends over and avoid restaurant wine markups of 200-300%!!
Martin Wehrli
Denver Colorado —  May 16, 2012 10:02pm ET
Hi Matt,

I have found wine by the glass to be a terrible value here in Denver. However, a number of wine bars slash the price in half during Happy Hour. From your experience (generally), would a 50% discount change your answer?

Joe Dekeyser
Waukesha, WI —  May 17, 2012 9:19am ET
I travel quite a bit so I am "dining out" regularly. My reality has become that there are so few decent wines by the glass that I simply take a pass and have a cocktail. Wine by the bottle is simply not an option.
James T Vitelli
CT —  May 17, 2012 9:56am ET
I think that many folks are over-reading the point about wines by the glass. If you are dining alone and truly limiting yourself to a single glass for the evening, then buying a glass, even with all its pitfalls, is the logical choice. But how many people reading this column regularly dine alone and order one, and only one glass of wine at a restaurant? If you dine alone and order two glasses at $10-$12 per glass, then take a look at the list and see if there isn't a bottle priced at at $30 that wouldn't please you more. You don't have to drink the whole thing. Leave the remaining wine for the staff, with a nearby diner, or take it to the bar and tell the bartender to spread the joy around, on the house. The question boils down to, are you willing to pay $6-$10 more for two glasses of pretty good wine by the bottle than for really bad wine by the glass? And if you are not dining alone, it becomes even easier to justify a bottle, even if you aren't going to finish it. At a minimum, two diners are going to consume two glasses. More likely four. Perhaps too much attention is paid to pairing a varietal with a dish, causing people to order that single glass of Albarino with their shellfish appetizer. But if the Albarino is plonk, what is the point of trying to create the "perfect pairing"?
Aaron Meeker
Kansas City, KS —  May 17, 2012 12:44pm ET
I would be intrigued to see how many people who have posted on this board have worked in a restaurant or currently do?

Clearly there is this perceived idea that restaurants are gouging people, yet how many independent restaurants have chef/owners/etc that are driving around in luxury cars and own a nice house? It is a grueling occupation that, when done correctly, requires tireless hours at their craft in addition to overseeing every component.

The fact is that wine is very much a part of operating income and expenses. Cities like Philadelphia and Chicago have a lot of of BYOs but their overhead is relatively small as there is no inventory, bartender, glassware, etc. Is three to four times markup too much for a bottle of wine? Probably. But that chicken dish or pasta dish on a menu isn't much different and there is not complaining there.
Gregory Smith
Lima, Peru —  May 17, 2012 1:12pm ET
I find your comments about by-the-glass programs in restaurants offensive and short-sighted. While many of us in the business go to great lengths to offer exciting and unusual wines by the glass, you generalize and criminalize the effort. I'm quite certain there are many more interesting subjects in the world of wine to write about without offending the very people who aim to educate the consumer about the very same subject which you write about: wine. This sensationalist style of journalism has no place among professional pages.
Neil Barham
Vail, co —  May 17, 2012 6:37pm ET
The sad thing here, is that BTG wines are an excellent way for a restaurant and its Sommelier to show their wine and wine paring to their menu expertise, But grifter way to make money, you say 25%, believe me most are shooting for 20% now. Place after place you stop at its all the same wines, I mean so they really think we went of on the town to drink grocery stores wines at inflated prices???

So true, especially how so many restaurants serve days old BTG wines and at the wrong temperature. Nothing like stewed plums in a glass to go with your $35 dish of food!

But fortunately we each have a place or three near to us where we get cool, interesting little seen wines BTG that zoom the flavors of their dishes and at those places usually at more than fair prices, and the funny think these places are packed while those others are begging for customers.
Neil Barham
Vail, co —  May 17, 2012 6:47pm ET
OH!!! I why "So when you fork over $10 for that glass of bland, commercial Pinot Grigio," well because the Wine Spectator gave it 89 PTS!!!! Yes you gave Yellow Tail 89 PTS!!!!!
Ann Vaughan
Wimington, Delaware —  May 18, 2012 9:01am ET
I have to agree with Matt this time. Often when you order wines by the glass, you have no idea how long the wine has been open, especially if you order wines off the beaten path. Granted if you are alone, buying a whole bottle makes no sense, but if you're not, you will often get a fresher wine, better selection, and better value.

As far as shopping for better prices, I also agree. Of course you need to do your due diligence with the retailer. I often order online from a wine retailer near NYC. They have better pricing and selection than I have locally and I can order now and the wine shows up tomorrow. I've never had a problem anything I've ordered from them. If the weather is hot, they will hold your wines for you until it cools down. That's a no brainer.
Mike Buckley
Falls Church, VA, USA —  May 18, 2012 10:13am ET
A few ideas about the issue of whether to buy wine by the glass or the bottle:

If freshness is a concern, explain to the waiter that you would like the wine poured at your table from a full or nearly full bottle. The pour should take place at your table for purposes of verification.

Perhaps more important, I have never had the slightest problem returning a bad glass of wine. When the wine has been bad (and that has rarely happened), the waiter has graciously replaced it.

Many states allow a restaurant to legally provide you with the wine that you don't drink at the table. Simply order it by the bottle and take the wine that you don't drink to your hotel or home for continued enjoyment. (I travel with wine glasses in my suitcase exactly for that purpose. Never had one broken yet including suitcases that are not carry-ons.)

Last, sometimes price per volume doesn't matter. I recently bought a glass of Meursault because I learned that some fellow drinkers (strangers) at a wine bar had never drunk it. I couldn't justify buying the bottle but I was more than happy to share the glass with them.
Dana Nigro
New York, NY —  May 18, 2012 10:44am ET
Dear Neil,

Thanks for sharing your restaurant experiences with by the glass wines.

Some of the Yellow Tail wines, particularly the Reserve bottlings, do indeed earn very good scores. That's why we blind taste, to remove any preconceptions about a wine based on price, brand or other information.

Just to correct the record, we have yet to give a score of 89 points to the Pinot Grigio, though various vintages have earned scores ranging from good to very good on our scale.

Dana Nigro, managing editor, WineSpectator.com
Bert Pinheiro
Baltimore Maryland —  May 20, 2012 9:38am ET
Matt your knowledge about the retail wine stores and restaurants ( to some extent ) is very limited. You must not have ever worked in one and if you did you did not learn very much about running a business and paying employees so they can make a living for themselves and their families.
Charlie Humphreys
Fort Collins, CO —  May 22, 2012 11:23am ET
I must say that this article seems based on the notion that people in the wine trade (from importers to distributors to on and off-premise purveyors) are trying to pull a fast one. "Most everyone in the wine business would rather you not know", this inherent mistrust makes me think you should either find new places to buy your wines or accept the fact that you are a total pessimist. I work a wine importer, our notion of business is rather simple; great wine, the best prices we can possibly offer, temperature controlled shipping and storage, and honest, good people to work with. Most of our customers are the same. A restaurant we sell to sells Bernard diochin Moulin A Vent by the glass, an amazing wine that wholesales for 18. They sell it for 10 a glass, very reasonable in my opinion, and what a cool wine to buy a glass of! If you are worried it has been open a while, just ask people! If they are not honest you probably don't want to eat there anyway.
Doug Bunting
Clifton, VA —  May 22, 2012 11:31am ET
The fourth thing that, "They Don't Want You To Know" can be deduced by looking at the reader comments section, which is that wine critics cannot be trusted to give objective reviews on wines due to fear of backlash from industry people. If a critic can't say something nice (or give a good wine score) they must say nothing at all. The content of the article is elementary and hardly controversial, yet he is subjected to personal attack by readers. If people had never heard the (Scottish?) expression that it's more expensive to "pay by the drink," then perhaps their second grade math would have kicked in to explain the economics. Or that when you are buying high priced items or in volume you should shop around, and your computer can assist with that... wow, you don't say. Yet the industry trolls pounce. Although I defend and applaud Mr. Kramer, I think this explains why I have come to reference and rely on free wine community tasting notes too, because overpriced or pedestrian wines will always be called out for what they are in those forums. How painful it must be for wine writers and professional super-tasters to have to suppress what they know to be true.
Thomas Matthews
New York City —  May 22, 2012 11:57am ET
Doug Bunting: Thank you for supporting Matt Kramer, even (or especially) when his opinions are controversial. However, I'm not sure how you "deduce" from the comments on this post that wine critics "can't be trusted to give objective reviews." As Dana Nigro states above, our reviews are the results of blind tastings, and we have published dozens of reviews with scores below 80 points in the last few months. We call them the way we see them; we never "suppress what we know to be true."

Thomas Matthews, Executive editor, Wine Spectator
Robert Turchyn
Hawaii —  May 24, 2012 3:17pm ET
Your comments about Premox are right on. I am one of the victims of having horded those mid-nineties vintages only to have to pour them down the sink. I will never buy white burgundy to lay down again. Thanks for making me feel less the idiot.
Dennis D Bishop
Shelby Twp., MI, USA —  May 24, 2012 4:26pm ET
You win again. No matter what words you write, you always attract the most comments!! I agree with you on all counts regarding wine by the glass vs. wine by the bottle - if you love wine, you will find a way to consume what you buy in a timely manner, and at a most enjoyable value. My Michigan laws allow bottles to be "re-corked" if not totally consumed – more states should learn by example. I did not know of Premox. Thank you for sharing, though I doubt I need worry. For the most part, I prefer CA Chard’s. Now “shopping” is where I go to the extreme in embracing your well put points. I belong to an on-site wine community that welcomes fellow wine consumers to post their purchase price and rate their wines. No we are not trained, and yes, there is room for much error. However, when you have over 500 consumers rate a particular wine/vintage, can the average be that wrong. And when you have those same 500 post their purchase price, should you pay more than that average price for YOUR purchase? I love reading WS tasting notes and release prices and such, but when it comes down to getting a handle on VALUE, I choose the readers, not the writers.
Peter Leeman
M I A M I —  May 29, 2012 4:44pm ET
I think ones experience with wine and restaurants evolves over time.
Once you have a good grasp of what you like you can spot the the bottle or two that fits the food served. I have explored wines at Mortons by the glass because I trusted the selection. It seems most restaurants who serve a decent wine by the glass charge double to triple retail. I look for corkage whenever possible and always follow corkage etiquette (don't bring something on the wine list etc.) I am still fascinated with the enomatic machines- I have seen one with Opus for $20 PER OUNCE!!!
Mary Jane Phillips
Farmington Hills, MI —  June 1, 2012 12:00pm ET
Wines by the glass, interesting. I had lunch yesterday at a local non chain restaurant with some friends that get together for blind tastings once a week. A few are distributors. We ordered a bottle of CA chardonnay, it was ok, but the options BTG were dire. Your suggestion of ordering a bottle vs. glasses was obvious. This subject came up, as I asked about a very well known Sonoma estate bottled chardonnay that was on a "time limit special" from a website I frequent. It was generally agreed on the part of the distributors that this particular winery makes a separate bottling for BTG offerings to restaurants. It is less expensive, but not available to the general public. They mentioned other wineries often do the same. I found this very interesting, as I have a few bottles of this particular wine in my cellar. It would be interesting to taste them side by side, even though the opportunity would seem unlikely. Good blog, controversy makes for lively conversation.
MJ Phillips, Farmington Hills, MI

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