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What to do about a "short pour"?

Local place for dinner. Wife didn't want wine, so I ordered by the glass. The glass comes with maybe 3 oz in it. I'm not a bartender, but I thought a standard by the glass pour is 4 oz. I asked the waiter what was up and he said it is their standard pour for by the glass wines. I asked him to take it back and he said the bartender would not take it back. Place was pretty busy and I really wasn't po'd enough to argue with the manager, so I let it go and sent them an email this morning asking if it was a conscious decision or if they just have poorly trained bartenders. I don't expect to receive an answer. I did ask two friends and they agreed the place pours lightly.

I also have known bartenders who supplement their income with shorts and spills, so that could be in play.

Was I wrong in the first place about the standard? I understand I can avoid the place, but the food is okay and I can always order a bottle. I'm just looking for some education here.

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  1. I think part of this is whether the wine list/menu states what the pour(s) is/are. I've been in places that generically advertise "such-and such wine by the glass" without specifying and the quantities have been all over the place. Better places will state clearly (and often give you a choice-I've seen up to three different quantity availabilities)-just how many ounces are in the specific pour. Also might depend on the price point- if what you received seemed fair for what they charged.

      1. re: duck833

        It's not the servers fault or decision. Why short them?

      2. There is no standard -- certainly not in any legal sense, at any reate. Some places pour four ounces; some five; some six. Some pour two oz. tastes and four oz. glasses. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a place that does a 3 oz. pour, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

        The attitude of the bartender sucks, and I would have spoken with the management. But as long as a three-ounce pour is THEIR standard . . .

        1. Most restaurants figure they will get four glasses out of a bottle of wine, making it a 6oz pour. From my experience being a bartender, many guests feel they are short poured when an establishment uses large wine glasses. A six ounce pour looks pretty small in those types of glasses. Now, I am not suggesting this is what happened with you but it does happen often. If you feel that you have been poured short, mention something to the manager and find out what their policy is. If they are worth their salary they will take care of it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: newyorkbuff

            >>> Most restaurants figure they will get four glasses out of a bottle of wine, making it a 6oz pour . . . <<<

            And some pour 5 oz., and some pour 4 oz., and . . . . it all depends upon the establishment. The restaurant I ran calculated that we were doing four oz. pours, and thus, got six glasses per bottle. The price-per-glass was the bottle price (including tax) divided by 5. Since we actually got six glasses, we made one glass "extra" profit.

            >>> . . . From my experience being a bartender, many guests feel they are short poured when an establishment uses large wine glasses. A six ounce pour looks pretty small in those types of glasses. <<<

            Absolutely right! And something that is important to keep in mind.

            1. re: zin1953

              Thanks for the info. Good point about the glasses. This particular restaurant uses fairly tall Bordeaux style glasses for all their btg servings (white and red), and that could have had some effect. Haven't gotten a reply to my email, as suspected.

              1. re: dd992emo

                Although it's more often that I'm surprised by an unusually LARGE pour, it does frustrate me to get 2-3 ounces. If I complained, I would feel cheap and gluttonous both.

                This happened recently and I'm almost positive what happened: the glasses had the shape of a burgundy glass, but in miniature. I suspect the staff at this brand new restaurant had memorized where to stop pouring wine in a normal burgundy glass. (I didn't say anything...my husband already thinks I'm a wino)

          2. In parts of Southern California there are a growing number of specialty wine shops that have rather large tasting bars and serve small-plate food items. Some of these shops are limited, by state license conditioning, to a 2-ounce tasting pour (although they can pour multiple pours). It's not exactly the same as a restaurant situation but it can be mis-interpreted if it's not explained by the staff. The pricing, however, is usually much lower in this environment, not only because the pour is smaller but because the purpose is to sell bottles at retail. These venues are becoming increasingly popular as a place to taste and enjoy wine.

            1. What really irks me is that they refused to take back the wine once you said it wasn't what you expected! I would not frequent that restaurant again.

              1. You definitely need to take your business elsewhere. You were not treated propertly by the management. The wine pour is a separate issue. The main issue for me is how management treated you -- its customer -- when you raised a perfectly legitimate question. So long as you raise the issue politely and professionally, there is no question that is off limits. The bartender and the manager should have conveyed their policy on the same terms -- politely and professionally. And even if a 3 oz. pour is their standard pour, after explaining their policy politely they should have taken the wine back. Period. There is no justification for any other outcome from a well-run restaurant with well-trained staff and management.

                I own a restaurant company, and I can assure you that would be our response. We will gladly lose the profit from that glass of wine to keep you happy. Sure, we want you to know our policies and why we pour what we pour for the price we charge -- we will explain that to you politely and non-defensively if you ask. But ultimately you are our customer and you are always right. And without you we are not in business. The cost to us of taking back that silly glass of wine is nothing compared to you leaving unhappy and then going to Chowhound to talk about your experience!

                The fact that your email has still not been answered is also inexcusable. So I would "vote" with my money and never go back to that place, if I were you. That's a short-sighted and poorly-run restaurant with a poorly-trained staff. And it tells you something about its ownership and their values if you are treated like that.

                As for the pour, I don't know of any restaurant that pours 3 oz. for their wines-by-the-glass selection. That may be appropriate for a sauternes, port, or other dessert wine, or for a wine tasting, but for a wine-by-the-glass with your meal a 3 oz. pour is not "standard." In general I think most legitimate restaurants pour in the 4-6 oz. range for their wines-by-the-glass, depending on their price point and stemware.

                1. I would love to talk to you about your experience as part of a research project i am doing on this subject. Please email me at nancy.keates@wsj.com and let me know a good way to contact you.

                  1. I usually find the 2-3 oz pour with "tasting menus," and appreciate this, as one does not get too much wine over a 5-11 course meal. Wine "flights" are also usually in this range. Normal b-t-g pours are most often in the 4 oz range, but I have encountered larger and smaller pours. Personally, I like the mini-carafs, which are approximately 4 oz, and allow me to top-up my glass, at my leisure. These also assure an even pour, quantity wise.

                    I think that you were correct to question the server. If 3 oz is their standard, then so be it. You have been warned. In general terms, I'd rather have a bit less, than a glass filled to the brim, but then I really like large-bowled glasses, so it's a bit hard to tell, sometimes.