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Wine by the bottle

Old Feb 12th, 2006, 04:45 PM
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Wine by the bottle

This isn't absolutely a travel question, although we eat out more when we travel, but it has always puzzled me, and I'll bet someone on this site knows: when you order wine by the bottle in a restaurant, when should you drink it? While there, obviously, but given that wine improves after it is opened, who pours a glass and then waits 30 minutes? Are you supposed to order wine and then have a cocktail? But then how do you know what you are going to eat, and so, which wine to order? Just curious.
ebgibbs is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2006, 05:33 PM
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A trivial aside to this question:

Michigan just passed a law that allows you to take home your unfinished bottle of wine. The restaurant corks it below the rim and you have to transport it in your car out of the reach of the driver. MADD supported the law because it won't make people try to finish their wine at the restaurant.

So with that law, you can let your unfinished wine breathe at home.
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Old Feb 12th, 2006, 05:42 PM
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OK, this is what we do.
You sit down and get a drink or not while you look over the menu. When you know what you are eating, you order that and a bottle of wine. They bring you the wine when they bring your dinner..or moments before.
They go through the whole tasting before pouring routine, then you get a glassful and that is that.
I cannot remember my husband ( the wino) ever having a problem with the wine not being decanted long enough.
In Paris, we had bottleS of wine sitting there LOL..
somehow, it always works out fine
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Old Feb 12th, 2006, 05:57 PM
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I order my wine as soon as I sit down. I usually find that a good, big wine glass does a fine job of decanting. Most wines that I buy in a restaurant ($45 and under) really only need a little Oxygen to get them going. So, with that first glass, I try not to suck it all down right away, and then the wine is fine after a few minutes.

I've been on business dinners where a fine bottle of old wine was ordered. In these rare cases, a good server will properly decant the wine for a good 20-30 minutes before serving. It works in those dinners, because they are usually 3 hour affairs.

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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 03:29 AM
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If you are at a fine restaurant where the wine is special, the servers will decant it to let it breathe and you will wait. Otherwise, wine is pretty much ready out of the bottle--or in your glass. Sluice it around in the large glass they should serve your red wine in to let it breathe. White wine is not as "demanding".
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 03:48 AM
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i agree with gretchen...for most wines this makes very little or no difference and you can take care of it by just being less aggressive with the first few sips. you should not make an issue of it. a very fine restaurant that knows good wine will recognise a bottle that will require some time and will direct you accordingly.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 08:49 AM
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The posts by Gretchen and Walkinaround have it just about right I think. 90+% of the wine you get in a restaurant is ready to drink immediately upon opening. After all, most restaurants are mainly about the food and the wine merely compliments their cuisine.
When I am lucky enough to find a really good bottle (or an older vintage) I usually order the wine and have it decanted and then have a glass of something (usually a lighter white wine) to enjoy while waiting on the bottle to open up. From my personal experience I have found that with much older wines (say 20+ years old) it may be a matter of minutes, not hours that you want to allow it to open up. In this case you might want to taste it within 5 or 10 minutes of being decanted and see what you think.
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 08:57 AM
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I think, quite simply, that you should order and drink your wine exactly when you want to. It's a horribly outdated notion (at least here in the UK) that there is any set and definable protocol or etiquette. If you are in a decent restaurant then nobody will bat an eyelid whatever you choose to (as long as it doesn't disturb other customers).

For the record, I would normally order something like a gin & tonic when I sit down and the waiter comes over; then order wine whilst ordering my food. It'll arrive when it arrives.

BTW, what's this business about taking wine HOME?!?! I've never knowingly left wine in a restaurant, most certainly not the first or second bottles! Maybe that's a UK thing too!? ;-)
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Old Feb 13th, 2006, 11:04 AM
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agree that most wine doesn't need decanting, and although some reds will be nicer after they "breathe" a bit, it's interesting to see how they evolve.

As to ordering a cocktail, I note that some oenophiles think that hard alcohol dulls the palate. At Charlie Trotter for instance, they do not serve liquor for that reason. I'm not sure my palate is that delicate to begin with, but just in case, I usually get champagne if I think I need something before my bottle of wine comes.

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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 04:04 AM
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Any excuse, eh!?!
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