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Restaurants with Great Half Bottle Lists

chipgriffin Oct 9, 2007 10:00 AM

I'm working on writing an article for Cork & Knife about restaurants around the U.S. that have great half bottle wine lists. Especially interested in ones with a variety of selections, both in style and price. Anyone have any favorites they would like to suggest?

  1. s
    sdpanda80 Jun 11, 2008 09:47 PM

    The Better Half in San Diego has a wine list make up of almost entirely 1/2 bottles...So far the recommendations have been excellent!

    1 Reply
    1. re: sdpanda80
      Bill Hunt Jun 12, 2008 09:41 PM

      For me, that is good to know, as we'll be in the SD Area on three trips, this Summer. When wife and I are dining, without guests, I seek out pairing menus, and then half-bottle lists. I'll hit the Google-express, to see what "The Better Half," is about.


    2. b
      BN1 Dec 27, 2007 09:41 PM

      Passionfish in Pacific Grove, CA had several half bottles on their list last Friday. Their website shows 18 reds and 17 whites, but I know some have changed since this was last updated. We got a 2006 Qupé, Viognier, Ibarra-Young Vineyard for $20, which is not on the site list.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BN1
        anewton Dec 28, 2007 06:32 AM

        When my wife and I dined at Everest (a Chicago restaurtant) in September this year, they had a strong selection of half-bottles, especially Alsatian wines. We enjoyed a couple of delicious half bottles, a Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile 1997 and a Ken Wright Pinot Noir 2005 (don't remember which one, as Ken Wright produces so many vineyard specific pinots).

      2. ambrose Oct 19, 2007 11:35 AM

        The Tewksbury Inn in Oldwick, NJ has recently rewritten it's menu to include only wine by the glass and half bottles. There are thirteen whites and twenty-three reds.

        They still have a separate wine list, offering full bottles, but it is presented only upon request. I was told that this change was made to reflect changes in customer preferences.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ambrose
          ambrose Dec 26, 2007 01:40 PM

          The Tewksbury Inn's selection of half bottles has finally been posted on their web site:


          1. re: ambrose
            WineTravel Dec 27, 2007 01:21 PM

            I find it annoying when restaurants list their wines w/o prices. True, it does give you some info. but it's hardly enough. I encourage any restaurant reading this thread to please include pricing when you post menus and winelists on your web site.

            1. re: WineTravel
              Bill Hunt Jun 4, 2008 01:03 PM

              Maybe I am just so happy to find a restaurant’s wine list on-line, then to find out that they actually have half-bottles, and then to find that they have some interesting half-bottles, that I’d overlook the lack of a price list. To me, it’s more about knowing that there will be a selection available, than what the charges will be. Possibly, I’m going about this all wrong.

              When I see a diverse list (halves, or otherwise), that compliments the food on the menu, I feel that someone has done their “homework.” I also find that most “stand-alone” restaurants (not part of a corporate entity, like Morton’s, etc.) that is serious about their wine, will also charge fair prices to encourage diners to enjoy it with their meal, especially considering the work that goes into pairings. Oh, there are the exceptions, but then it becomes a “once burned... “ situation.

              Half-bottles of interesting, well-made wines, are not that easy to come by. Then there is a storage problem, as most commercial racking is designed to hold a 0.75 Bdx-styled bottle. Even many PN’s and Syrahs will not fit well. Also, the overhead to serve a half-bottle is the same as for a full-bottle – same number of pieces of stemware, almost same amount of time to decant, same number of “coaster,” if the wine goes onto the table. Only the amount of time, that a server will spend pouring is diminished.

              Though they usually cost more that one half of a full-bottle, we seek them out, so we can have more wineS with our meal, and not just more wine.

              Personally, I’ll overlook the lack of pricing on the Web site. However, a constantly updated, downloadable PDF (often used to print the wine list, unless it’s leather bound) is a nice touch, and pricing can easily be added and changed, as the vintage selections change.


            2. re: ambrose
              tewksdog Jan 9, 2008 12:34 PM

              Hi ambrose,
              this is a challenge with web-site designers

              1. re: tewksdog
                ambrose Jan 10, 2008 04:50 AM

                As Wine Travel mentioned, the challenge for the Tewksbury Inn web site designer seems to be the listing of prices! VERY annoying, especially when other restaurants seem to have no problem showing prices.

          2. Bill Hunt Oct 16, 2007 09:16 AM

            Most interesting half-bottle list that I have seen in a very long time was recently, at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN. However, you really need to be a guest, to dine there.
            [EDIT] I see that Chickstein beat me to this punch, but she's right-on!

            La Mer, Honolulu, HI, has a very good list with depth and diversity.

            Ventana Room, Tucson, AZ has a good one too, but falls behind the above mentioned restaurants.

            We normally look for half-bottles, as it's more often just the two of us dining, and, unless there is a killer b-t-g selection, I'd rather do 4 halves, to pair with dinner. Even if we go with the sommelier's tasting, or have enough diners to do multiple bottles, I always acknowledge to the server, how much I appreciate the halves.

            Good luck

            1. c
              Chicago Mike Oct 11, 2007 11:40 PM

              Chip... sorry that I didn't speak up earlier...

              Anywya, I'mve had about 6 wines so forgive the english here....

              Her'ss the deal... yiou should skew your article away from "half bottles" and towards "less than full bottles"... that can include by the glass, car\afe, half-carafe, etc.... and especially skew it towards "food friendly"... this is particularly interesting becuase it says the best wine doesn't win, the best "food and wine match" wins...

              Another reason I mention this is b ecause many wineries have a tremendous limited half-bottle production, if any at all.... why not concentrate on venues that serve less-than-full-bottles, in general ?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chicago Mike
                chipgriffin Oct 12, 2007 05:14 AM

                I appreciate the suggestion. I will likely do a separate article on wines by the glass and restaurants with cuvinet systems that enable guests to have anything from a taste to a carafe. But because good half-bottle wine lists are so rare, I thought it would be interesting to look at them separately.

              2. ibstatguy Oct 11, 2007 02:05 PM

                not sure what "great" is but "Market" here in San Diego (actually closer to Del Mar) has a very nice list of both half btls and wines by the glass

                1. v
                  vinosnob Oct 11, 2007 09:00 AM

                  Capo (in Los Angeles) is supposed to have a large selection of half bottles; I'm going there next week so I'll report back

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: vinosnob
                    vinosnob Oct 19, 2007 10:20 AM

                    Ate at Capo last night and they do have a large half bottle list.

                    Overall, the list is comprised of mostly $100 or more bottles, but if you spend the time, it's possible to find some good bottles under.

                    I steered clear of the Napa cabs, barolos, etc. and found two outstanding bottles from Oregon. An '03 Soter Brut Rose and an '02 Francis Tannahill Syrah.

                  2. c
                    chickstein Oct 9, 2007 08:25 PM

                    Blackberry Farm in TN. Last I checked they had over 150 selections in half bottles.


                    1. b
                      Boswell Oct 9, 2007 01:43 PM

                      In New York, Landmarc has numerous half bottles (as an alternative to wine by the glass, which they don't serve). Park Blue also specializes in half bottles.

                      1. Frodnesor Oct 9, 2007 12:55 PM

                        A couple recent visits come to mind:

                        Cyrus in Healdsburg,CA

                        Here where I am in Miami, somewhat slim pickins. Michy's is not that broad but reasonably well-selected:
                        (link will require a few more clicks to get to it)

                        1. ccbweb Oct 9, 2007 11:56 AM

                          Quince in San Francisco has a terrific list of half-bottles.


                          1. r
                            RicRios Oct 9, 2007 11:09 AM

                            Some discussion regarding half bottles in a thread a couple inches down:


                            1. d
                              DavidT Oct 9, 2007 11:05 AM

                              I will be interested in seeing what responses you get. While a lot of places now sell wine by the glass, I have come across very few that offer wine in half-bottles.

                              If I ever open a wine bar and/or restaurant, I will sell nothing BUT half-bottles!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: DavidT
                                chipgriffin Oct 9, 2007 11:42 AM

                                "Nothing but" half bottles seems a bit overboard to me, but I agree with the sentiment. Far too few places give guests the chance to enjoy the benefits of half bottles. I have come across a few on my own in my travels and in my early research have already found several others. Hopefully our fellow hounds can think of a few others...

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