I’m a big believer in restoring wine to its rightful place as a drink of the people. After all, it was the drink of choice of the workingman from Egypt to England for thousands of years. When did this fine beverage become the symbol of the decadent elite? Rise, proletariat, and reclaim the noble grape from the effete bourgeois! Go and imbibe! Or at the very least, don’t be afraid to order a bottle or glass from time to time.
I’m a big believer in restoring wine to its rightful place as a drink of the people. After all, it was the drink of choice of the workingman from Egypt to England for thousands of years. When did this fine beverage become the symbol of the decadent elite? Rise, proletariat, and reclaim the noble grape from the effete bourgeois! Go and imbibe! Or at the very least, don’t be afraid to order a bottle or glass from time to time. Here’s a quick guide for what to do when partaking of the vino when you are out:Don’t be afraid to ask questionsTrying to read a wine list is often like trying to understand a different language. Between the names of producers, varieties and regions, lists are often a confusing mess. To make matters worse, every restaurant or bar organizes their list differently. One of the most common reasons people don’t order wine is that they think they should already know about the wines and know what they want. It’s a bit intimidating. Truth is, there are thousands of wines in the world, and even the best experts don’t know all of them, or even most of them. Rather than trying to guess, just ask your server, “What’s good here?” Bartenders and wait staff usually try the wines they have on the menu. If you give them a price and a couple characteristics you’re looking for, they can give you a recommendation that will be much better than a wild guess.When possible, buy by the bottleWines by the glass bear some of the biggest markups a bar thinks they can get away with. A bottle that would retail for $10, for example, might sell for $6 by the glass. At about five pours per bottle, that’s $30-a 300 percent markup. What’s worse, usually the wines are crap. They might even be box wine.Restaurants, and especially bars, assume that people who order wine by the glass just aren’t that picky about what gets put in front of them as long as it’s red or white (or, gasp, pink), so by-the-glass selections are usually where they stick the cheapest plonk they can find. Also, once a bottle is opened, the wine is exposed to air and begins to break down. A by-the-glass bottle sits around until it’s gone. That means the wine you’re drinking could have been sitting open for hours, or even days. You’ll get better quality, and a slightly better price, if you find a friend or two to go in on a bottle.Don’t be afraid to ask for a tasteMost bars, and some restaurants, will give you a sample of their by-the glass wines before you choose one. Some will even let you sample a by-the-bottle wine if they have some open. Just ask for a taste. And be sure to tip well. They’re taking the time to give you free booze.B.Y.O.W.Most people don’t realize that many restaurants will let you bring your own wine. This can be a great way to make sure you get to drink something you like, or to celebrate a special occasion with a carefully chosen bottle. However, some restaurants charge a “corkage” fee if you bring your own (basically, they’re charging you to open it for you), which can be as much as $15, but some places don’t. The fee is usually listed somewhere on the menu, but sometimes it’s not. If you have a restaurant that you like and frequent, just ask about their B.Y.O.W. policy and if they have a corkage fee.
Not all wine bars are ridiculously expensive. These places all have good pours and at least a few on the cheap:
Crush1400 S.E. Morrison St.
Pour Wine Bar and Bistro2755 N.E. Broadway
Sapphire Hotel5008 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.
Victory Wine Bar3652 S.E. Division St.
Vino Paradiso Wine Bar and Bistro417 N.W. 10th Ave.