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Does your eatery even care what wine you're drinking?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I was having lunch down at the Nodding Head pub in downtown Philadelphia. It’s a great brewpub that produces some amazing beers of its own, but also the kitchen is great. I had a hankering for their jambalaya, which I consider great for the price (it’s very filling) and the taste. As I was choosing what to drink, I had both a pint of beer and a glass of wine. Pete, the manager on duty who was attending bar asked me the question, “what’s the best wine in a brewpub” to which the answer was “the last opened.”

Well, the answer dealt with the fact that, firstly, it’s a brewpub, and they are in the business of serving beer. For those of you that don’t realize, wine starts to lose its taste/consistency after it’s opened by a process called aeration, or oxygenation. Usually, a bottle of red might last two to three days after opening, and whites can last maybe a few days more; this is all of course with proper storage. With this reality, you can’t really see them stocking a bunch of good wine, if they are only going to server one or two glasses, and then have to dump the bottle’s contents when it goes bad.

The second caveat of the answer was the fact that many places that really have no interest in wine are not going to really offer their patrons a nice selection to choose some. I spoke to that briefly in my article “Deconstructing Wine.” In this, there is a pretty interesting scenario; restaurants are now doing fifty percent of their business based on alcohol sales, but of this revenue, the highest margins are actually for either cocktails or straight pours (shots, liquor on the rocks, or even paired with tonic). For example, you can get at least seventeen shots from a standard fifth bottle. A bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label costs around $200, while a shot of it will run around $60; $60 x 17 = $1020, a profit of $820 for the bottle. A standard pour of wine is five ounces, yielding five glasses per bottle, with a normal profit of two and one-half to four times the price of the bottle. Now, while it’s rare for most people to order the Blue Label, and about as rare for many places to carry it, you can still realize that anywhere from three to five shots from a bottle of liquor pays for the bottle, with the house making a minimum of four hundred percent return on the bottle, but making it a lot faster with liquor than wine. Also depending upon the type of liquor, the pour might be smaller.

So, at this point, you might realize that they are caring more about pushing mixed drinks and straight liquor than wine, not caring about your wine selections.

Another part of this scenario is that the buyers are not schooled in wine, if even interested in it in the least, and in this, there is no interest in actually looking for quality wines at decent prices to offer their customers. And this leads to another interesting position in which there are reps visiting the establishment and pushing low qualities mass-consumption wines, such as your basic Woodbridge and Sutter Home offerings, or that the person charged with purchasing alcohol chooses things based on what they see other places offering.

And of course, these reps are not caring about the wine that those patrons are drinking.

Now this “monkey see, monkey do” phenomenon is one that in the end, does the patrons the worst. Too often, restaurants wine lists between different places are so similar that it’s tragically pathetic. And depending upon the level of establishment, what you see might become more and more daunting; check out the amount of places still serving jug wine as a staple.

More so, you have the reality whereas the rules of supply, demand and quality come into play. Wine producers would always love to sell their wine quickly, but they might not have the capital to market their wines as much a

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Our Mission: The Black Winer strives to expose African Americans [and others] to wines, without the flair, stuffiness, and airs of elitism and snobbery that you get from sommeliers and high level wine enthusiasts. We believe in finding something that you like the taste of, outside of the basic brands that you have been force-fed over the years through a combination of ethnically targeted advertising, and what people in your family have historically been drinking.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018
11:13:55 PM