If you are like most people, you’ve probably complained that restaurants’ wine markups are too high. Why should I pay $75 or more for this bottle of wine when my local liquor store sells it for $25? And how do you know you’re getting your $75 worth?
From my perspective as a professional Sommelier, here are a few things you should know to evaluate a restaurant’s wine service.
1. Is there a Sommelier in the house? If so, did they come over to your table, recommended a wine, chat with you about wine and then open the bottle for you?
When I travel to new cities I’m always looking for a unique experience something above and beyond what I would normally expect. The Hotel Max answered that need in a big way. First, I arrived at the hotel at 10 am and the front desk was able to take my bags for me so that I could go out and explore downtown Seattle while they got my room ready for my return. After an amazing day of exploring Seattle and traveling out to Woodinville to taste wine, I was finally able to retreat back to my room.
The room was absolutely amazing! First of all the bed….I truly had a hard time getting up in the morning and it wasn’t from a wine hangover! Truly one of the bests sleeps I have had in a long time. At Hotel Max, take advantage of the pillow menu–it has every pillow imaginable on it, reading pillows, thin and flat pillows, feather pillows, you name it! Loved the red, white and stainless contrasts in the bathroom. Views of the city were great. Definitely an adult playground right in your room…the mini bar goes beyond chocolate and nuts with the Hotel Max intimacy kit and a lovely half bottle of Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon with proper wine glasses! This hotel is great for couples or couples with kids that sleep soundly.
Everyone wants a pub to call their own and now you can at MyPlace Pub in the Bloor West Village. And according to owner/chef Brad Long they’ve only been open a week and they already have regulars! And I can see why with the great selection of beer, wine and upscale pub food. Were not talking greasy, overbattered fish and chips either.
I had the Black Cod fish-and-chips that literally melted in your mouth. Of course, I washed it down with a Blanche de Chambly, a Quebec white ale with great acidity and citrus notes. Other great beers of note including Mill Street, Muskoka, Steam Whistle and Big Rock, but also stouts and dark ales.
It really is ‘touch and go’ at CLO Wine Bar. When I was in NYC this week, I stopped by the bar, located in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. When you walk in, you are greeted by a friendly host who explains how to locate a wine on their unique menu system. You hold your hand over the table and a menu screen appears and you use gestures to navigate through over 100 wines available. The display gives you all the information you need about each wine such as producer, region, grape, vintage, price, tasting notes and bottle location in the bar. Once you pick your wine, you walk over to the machine, insert your card and voila! Every wine (except sparking) is hooked up to an Enomatic machine and gives you an exact 4 ounce pour of the wine of your choice…just make sure your glass is underneath the spout. Then you can go back to your seat and enjoy your wine. There is a small menu available to enjoy a cheese plate or charcuterie with your wine.
Since having recently come back from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, I have had hankering for Oregon Pinot Noir. But what would I pair with it? I’ve been craving a really good pulled pork sandwich and decided to try The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder near my house. I was also in luck, as the LCBO recently released some great Oregon Pinot Noir to our market here in Ontario. Much to my delight, I was able to pick up the 2006 Maysara Jamsheed Pinot Noir, with its beautiful cherry and earthy flavours. What an amazing match in terms of flavours of both the food and wine and the finish was outstanding. Their pulled pork sandwich was one of the best I have had in a long time, the BBQ sauce just having the right amount of sweetness and acidity. I also liked the coleslaw topping, too. I hear the ribs at The Stockyards are amazing but, alas, only available Sundays, Tuesday and Friday…stay tuned!