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Wine Options Beyond The Bottle

I love a glass of wine with dinner, but very infrequently do I get to order a bottle at a restaurant.

Sometimes (okay, often) I go out with cocktail geeks who prefer martinis to Malbec. Or sometimes I want white but my friends prefer red, or my buddy drove to dinner and isn’t touching the stuff. So I’m delighted to see that how the options for ordering wine have expanded.

By-the-glass has long been available, but it’s no longer just limited to just a handful of wines; in many bars and restaurants, the by-the-glass options are substantial. In some cases, this is even supported by technology – for example, I recently stopped in at Maialino, where a wall of Enomatic machines are showcased behind the bar. The machines preserve maybe a dozen opened bottles of Italian wines. It makes it easy to sit at the bar and select a glass of Barolo to pair with your salumi with minimal investment.

On an even smaller scale, over at The Monday Room, a darling little space within Public restaurant, not only do they serve 60 wines by the glass, the same are available in half-glass pours. This is a perfect solution for decision-challenged types like me, who will gladly buy two (or three) half-pours rather than one full glass. Some restaurants – such as Maialino – also will provide half-glass tastes, but it can be under radar and you have to ask for it.

But what if you’re feeling like a little more, rather than a little less? Then the solution is quartinos, those carafes that hold roughly a quarter of a bottle (about a glass and a half). Happily, those too are appearing in more and more restaurants and wine bars.

And last but not least, half bottles are taking more space in wine shops and some restaurant menus. My only complaint is I’d like to see those sell for half the price of full bottles, but otherwise I think it’s a fabulous format. You’ll see more on this here soon.

I’m also starting to wonder what the burgeoning trend for selling wine on tap might hold for portion sizing at restaurants – will a ¾-size glass become an option someday? Regardless, with all the great options to the standard bottle size, having all of these choices makes me feel like the glass is always half full.