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Advice requested: Wine by the glass?

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My wife and I routinely order a bottle of wine with dinner. However, we do frequently encounter situations where we stop in somewhere for a drink and would like to order just a glass of wine. However, at least 30% of the time (maybe 40%) we find the wine has gone over due to having been open for perhaps several days. Now, we know enough not to ask for the wine list at Joe's corner bar. I'm referring to medium- to high-end bars and restaurants. To make mattes worse, the more unusual the wine (and therefore potentially more interesting to us), the more likely that the bottle's been open for several days since it's rarely ordered. It's disconcerting to say the least to pay $30 (with tip) for a single round of drinks and get bad wine. However, I get tired of sending drinks back nearly half the time. Anybody else encounter this with frequency? Any good strategies for coping? Thanks!

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  1. I send 'em back.

    1. Like zin said, send them back. Any place that has any pride in its wine by the glass list will make sure that the wine doesn't go bad and won't have any problem with replacing it if it does.

      1. You sell both yourselves and the establishment short by not sending back wine that is not at its best.

        Send it back!

        1. Wines by the glass, and minor problems with that kind of program, were the subject of a thread earlier this month:
          Wine By the Glass Question
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/476023

          Several tips from that thread for getting a glass of wine you enjoy are:
          1. Ask for a taste.
          2. Ask for a pour from a fresh bottle.
          3. Let the bartender know you don't care for what you have and would prefer something else.

          3 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            Maria, thanks for the heads up on the previous thread (for some reason it didn't show when I searched before posting). Thanks also to you and everyone else for the advice. Good call on suggesting a taste first; I'll have to make that a rule in the future.

            1. re: jeffchow

              Just as an addititonal insight...a number of years ago I was a project consultant for several Napa Valley wineries. At the end of the day, partly-drunk bottles from the tasting room were gassed (using inert gas) and re-sealed for use the next day for tastings. At least half the time, the re-sealed bottles did not have the full-force of flavors the next day as did a newly opened bottle. The tasting room employee had to be able to discern if the day-old wine was good enough to be representative of what the wine really tasted like. The best way to tell, obviously, was to open a new bottle and compare the two side by side. The point being, even a bottle that has been properly re-sealed overnight may experience a great fall-off in flavor, and the bartender may not know or even be aware of the fall-off in flavor. Always ask for a fresh taste, or re-pour, from a newly opened bottle if at all in doubt.

              1. re: jeffchow

                maria's advice is excellent. after many experiences like yours, i've made a habit of requesting a taste before ordering. i've been doing it for several years, and as a result, i've successfully avoided committing to glasses of bad wine on MANY occasions. in situations where it's a wine with which i'm very familiar and the sample tastes "off" to me, i do request a pour from a fresh bottle.

            2. I always ask for a taste to see if it is worthy of my pallete and my wallet. If they are not willing then shop accordingly.

              1. Just to echo the chorus of advice: Do not hesitate, send it back. I find the best way is to say very politely, "It tastes to me like this wine is oxidized, would you mind checking to see how long this bottle has been open?" Most of the time time they realize that someone who knows enough to say the word "oxidized" probably knows what an oxygen-damaged wine tastes like.

                If you don't speak up, the situation is a failure for all involved: a failure for the restaurant, because they end up with a customer who feels ripped off; a failure for the vintner, because they work so hard to make the wine right, bottle it right, finish it with a perfect cork, only to have it ruined by factors beyond their control; and a failure, most important, for you.

                Look on it not as being a demanding customer, but as doing the restaurant a favor. Any good restaurant wants to know when a customer isn't happy. If you don't tell them, you're not giving them the opportunity to correct the situation. And you have the bonus of knowing that you're protecting other customers (who may not know what an oxidized wine tastes like) from the faulty bottle as well.

                1. Jeffchow,

                  Ask the server about the wine, before hand. Express your concern to him/her. Most good b-t-g restaurants/bars have a reliable system of storage, and they should be proud of that. Also, the mini-caraffe is a nice touch, or a tasting from that bottle, prior to pouring the full glass. I've had similar situations with high-end Ports in the b-t-g pourings, and have sent many back, asking for a new bottle to be opened. It should be about their pride, as well as your tastes. They should accommodate your request, and explain the pains, to which they go, to insure that you, the client, is satisfied. If not, it's time to move on.

                  Hunt