Boulder is a mecca of fine restaurants. The draw may be the creation of the Chef but my first inquiry after being seated is the wine list. I curiously glance at what the restaurant offers by the glass and then make my way straight to the bottle listing. Tracy & I share a bottle that suits our taste and meal, plus if we don't finish the bottle Colorado allows the restaurant to re-cork the bottle and we can bring it home. The generally more expansive offering of finer wines is certainly part of my bend towards the bottle listings, but truth be told I'm strongly motivated by the likely condition of the wine.
Settembre Cellars is expecting a new little winemaker this Spring. As a result, Tracy endured wine festivals and crush exclusively on the serving side of the bottle and I've become more inclined to explore wines offered by the glass. This should be an exciting option, as I now get to try a couple of different wines with my meal and explore even more pairings. However, I find frighteningly often wine by the glass is presented in completely unquaffable condition due to improper care after opening; frequently oxidized.
The wine served with the meal is an integral part of the dining experience and the most tense part of the meal should not be the time between ordering a glass and waiting to see what condition it's in. This situation also happened in fine restaurants with educated and trained wine staff who should know not only which wine pairs best with your meal and personal preferences but also how to properly store wine after it's been opened. Alas, over 50% of the time I found myself being served wines that were compromised.
Given my situation and months ahead I needed a solution. After finally settling on a system that was reasonably successful and dining out returned to a pleasurable experience Tracy suggested I Blog my approach. A new post was well over due, so here is my strategy to the wine by the glass list. First, we're fortunate and get to try a couple of wines during the meal. I often start with a sparkling wine; it's a refreshing way to commence a meal and it doesn't take a Master Sommelier to note that the wine has gone flat (though yes, I've received a glass of sparkling wine well enroute to flat, this plan isn't fool proof). Second, I'm ready for a glass of still wine: select 2 you're most interested in and ask for a taste. The goal here is not to get more booze for your buck, and most of us don't really want to consume that compromised sample anyway, but rather ascertain if the bottle has been stored properly before you commit to a glass. I find more times then not (even at some of the finest restaurants) that one of the two glasses will have been compromised. Most of the time you'll be set to choose the wine that is in suitable condition, but on occasion, I've had to ask for a sample of a third. You don't have to be an expert and understand wine evolution and flaws to use the technique, choose the wine you prefer. Lastly, don't discredit the wine sample you didn't enjoy, try it another time as it may not have reached your glass as the winemaker intended.