The world by the glass

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We just returned from our semi-annual trip to the “gift show.” These trips are when Mary shops for all the merchandise we carry in the store, when we go in August our focus is on fall, the holidays and winter. For all of you who have been in the shop you know what beautiful work she does finding and displaying a lovely array of tabletop and gift items. We had another successful trip and all the new things will begin arriving in the coming weeks, be sure and come by to see the additions.

While traveling we get the opportunity to eat out and when we do that it is also a chance to explore new wine lists. So while the trip was successful in finding great new gifts we also enjoyed some wonderful wine lists. The bottles selections were amazing but even more impressive were the “by the glass” lists we found. This trip was to New York so it may not be surprising finding world class wine lists in a world class destination like New York City, but what may seem more astonishing is finding really great pour lists in the Denver airport!

The “by the glass” list is incredibly important for restaurants. It is no different than if you are selling a house to have good “curb appeal,” or if you are running an office based business and having a great receptionist, or the importance of greeting your customers quickly and sincerely when you have a retail store. It is the first impression, and there is only one shot at that.

This is why it is such a mystery to me as a wine professional when a restaurant does not focus enough attention on this part of their business. Strategically it could not be more important. Yet despite the value in a well designed and chosen “by the glass” list we see so many around North Idaho that are just plain lacking. Of course there are notable exceptions, Bluebird, Fleur de Sel, Beverly’s and Tony’s on the lake all do an outstanding job assembling an interesting and diverse list of choices. For each one of these though there are 3 others that make the mistake of either giving their entire selection of “by the glass” choices to one distributor, or leaving their choices stagnant year after year, or by leaving key categories unfilled.

It is why we believe that we see so many of the same choices in restaurant after restaurant around town to the point of boredom and frustration. While we were traveling we found lists almost at every meal with Grüner Veltliner, Picpoul, Chenin Blanc and other interesting choices in whites. Every list had at least two dry rosé choices and some more than that. In reds we were able to find Beaujolais, Grenache, and a wide choice of Italian and Spanish wines being poured “by the glass.” While the reasons to be bored are clear, the frustration comes from the fact that we know all of these varietals and more are available here in our local market at wholesale prices that fit the “by the glass” range perfectly. We taste them just about every week, so restaurant owners can too.

From the consumer’s viewpoint this is a fabulous way to try new and different wines from what we might normally by, and to tour the great big world of wine a glass at a time. No big commitment and no chance of being stuck with a whole bottle of the same thing. This is what led to our offering of a weekly wine special here at the dinner party called the Friday Night Flights, a chance to try new things all the time and find your own new favorites.

We encourage all of the great local restaurants here at home to invest the time and effort in assembling the best, most diverse, and ever changing wine “by the glass lists.” You will be rewarded, handsomely I predict, by a well educated wine consuming public who is craving new and better choices by the glass. For each of us as business owners in wine related industries you will have fun, a lot of fun, and you will be pleased with the response not only from your customers but your staff too. There is a whole big world of wine out there, explore it and include it in your offerings.

If there is a topic you would like to read about or if you have questions on wine, you can email George@thedinnerpartyshop.com, or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d’Alene Press.

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George Balling is co-owner (with his wife Mary Lancaster) of the dinner party, a wine and table top décor shop located by Costco in Coeur d’Alene. George worked as a judge in many wine competitions, and his articles are published around the country. You can learn more about the dinner party at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com. Be sure and check out our weekly blog at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com/home/blog-2. You can get all of these articles as well as other great wine tips by friending us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.

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