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Feb 03

Better Off Bottled?

CNN Money reported today that restaurant wine lists are huge rip-offs. I think we all knew this. But just in case you weren’t clear on the facts:

Restaurants mark up cheaper bottles by an average of three times the retail price, while the prices of higher end wines are typically doubled, says Ronn Wiegand, a master sommelier who runs the industry newsletter RestaurantWine.

Last week, I got to eat at the wonderful (and amazingly expensive) new restaurant Sage in Las Vegas’s new Aria / City Center complex. My friend and I picked a $44 bottle of Argentinian Malbec off of the wine list, and proceeded to enjoy two bottles, but I was aware that the bottle probably retailed for around $15. We made a decision to “not think about it.”  That said, we both felt we got off lucky with the $44. Mixed into the French listings was a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tâche, which was listed at over $9000. Per bottle. Ouch!

The CNN article continues, with tips about wine by the glass:

Think that’s rough? Prices for wine sold by the glass are tripled or even quadrupled, Wiegand says, since restaurants have to account for the chance that they won’t sell the whole bottle before it spoils.

I hate ordering wine by the glass, but occasionally, that’s all I want and I bite the bullet. If I’m with a group though, or if Kevin and I actually want the same glass, I’ll tend towards a bottle. Back when Tonic was Twist, I would always order a bottle of the Gruet Sparkling Wine from New Mexico as opposed to just a glass. The difference between an ~$14 glass and a $40 bottle seemed negligible when people were sharing. I recently noticed that Tonic still offers the Gruet on their list, so if I can ever tear myself away from cocktails, I might resort to the full bottle again.

Many restaurant wine lists have a sweet spot – that spot where you can find several bottles of wine in a similar price range that is actually affordable and not so far off from the retail price to give you a heart attack. At Sage, we found that spot in the Argentinian section. At the Wine Cellar at Las Vegas’s Rio, that spot was located in the Spanish wine section. So if you have to shop by price, look for the sweet spot.

Cheers to 1WineDude‘s Joe Roberts
for tweeting this tip!
Dollar sign used under Creative
Commons from OldMaison

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Posted by Michelle at 2:04 pm in News, Restaurants, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (4)
Sep 03

The Moerlein Lager House is Coming

As I pulled into the driveway last night, I heard this news on the radio. It made my night!  After all, we love our wine, but we're equal opportunity beer and cocktail folks as well.

We love our German beer here in Zincinnnati (see Oktoberfest and Hofbrauhaus). So why not open a biergarten / brewpub featuring one of Cincinnati's original German brews? Christian Moerlein will be opening a 15,000 square foot restaurant and brewery, complete with outdoor biergarten, down on the Banks.

The new multi-story brewpub will be built on top of a parking garage across from the Great American Ball Park.
The restaurant, to be called the Moerlein Lager House, will seat 500
inside and 600 in the beer garden.  It will span the block on Main Street between Mehring Way and Theodore M Berry Way, in stumbling distance from the ball park, really.

According to the Business Courier, "Preliminary designs for the two-story building include a green roof,
balconies and terraces with views of the river, Roebling Suspension
Bridge and the ballpark."  I fell in love with green roofs in Vancouver, so I'm pretty excited about just that one small detail on its own.

The new restaurant will also offer brewery tours. It's slated to open in 2011.

I can't imagine the place being anything but packed all the time. When I lived in Maryland, my friends would go to the store looking for Moerlein beer, which just baffled me at the time. After all, I'd grown up with it. Moerlein is nationally known as a maker of craft brews and, combined with the ball park, will be a huge hit for tourists.

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Posted by Michelle at 10:07 am in Beer, Beer-Guy.net, Cincinnati, Local, News, Restaurants | Permalink | Comments ()
Aug 20

Twist to reopen as Tonic Union (UPDATED)

I used to love Twist. But since the Jean-Robert Restaurant Group became the Relish Group, I've sort of avoided those locations on principle. (The principle being I love Jean-Robert.)

You may have noticed that Twist is currently closed. It will re-open in mid-September with a new name – Tonic Union – and Pigall's will re-open with a new restaurant concept. Are they renaming Pigall's? I'm not sure and I have mixed emotions about it. There's a lot of wonderful culinary history with that name, but at the same time, I don't want to possibly see the name mistreated.

The new restaurant will serve American cuisine that sort of sounds like gourmet comfort food. The Business Courier quoted Relish Group COO Justin Dean as saying, “It’s grandma’s recipes retooled with a nice little twist."

The new chef, Steven Geddes, is a Las Vegas restaurant consultant and also a Master Sommelier, which is good news. The pairings should be excellent and I expect him to have a broad understanding of how food and wine can enhance each other. The sous chef is Kyle Johnson, who recently worked for Celebrity Cruise lines. (Having just stepped off a Celebrity Cruise, I can't say I was overly impressed with their food.)

As for Twist, I'm sad to say it will be redecorated. I really hope they keep those beautiful round chandeliers that Jean-Robert ordered from France, or that somehow Jean-Robert gets to reacquire those. They were one of my favorite things at Twist, aside from the champagne.  If the Wades plan to match the decor to the food next door, I'll just cross my fingers.

UPDATED: Apparently the new name for Pigall's will be Local 127. I suppose that sort of works with Tonic Union next door, but admittedly, the whole thing sort of brings a steelworker/Allentown sort of motif to my mind.

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Posted by Michelle at 9:51 am in Cincinnati, Local, News | Permalink | Comments (1)
Jul 27

Random Wine Tidbits

Lots of quirky little things going on in the greater wine industry right now:

  • I wish I'd known this. Here I just spent 3.5 days in Chicago and didn't visit the Art Institute. They have an exhibition running through September 20 called "A Case for Wine".  Trust me, I'll be heading back to Chicago before this exhibit disappears.

Continuing the celebratory summer mood initiated by the historic
Modern Wing opening, this exhibition marks the first time a fine arts
museum has explored art through the vine.

Wine has played a role at the Art Institute of Chicago almost since
the museum’s inception in 1879. A major European expedition to acquire
classical antiquities for the fledgling collection in 1889 resulted in
the purchase of several pots originally used for serving and storing
wine. In 1890 the Art Institute made its first serious foray into the
realm of Old Master paintings with the purchase of 12 Netherlandish
works, including Jan Steen’s Family Concert which shows
guests drinking out of distinctive Dutch wine flutes while listening to
music. In 1927 the Art Institute purchased half of the Jacques Mühsam
Collection of European glass with funds provided by Julius and Augusta
Rosenwald, providing the museum with superlative examples of
wineglasses from the 15th to the 19th century. This cross-departmental
exhibition presents nearly 300 wine-themed objects, including selected
loans from other institutions and private collectors, tracing this
beloved libation’s surprisingly significant role as a stimulus and
source of artistic endeavor from ancient times through the modern day.

  • You know those oh-so-popular Crystal Light (and similar) powders you can add to your bottled water? You can now get your wine in powdered form. A Swiss company called Katadyn, which makes powdered food for hikers, wants hikers to have access to wine. It's not actually called wine either, as it isn't made from grapes. It is simply flavored to taste like wine (in particular, Italian Chianti). Italian winemakers are all up in arms, but really … how good could this taste?
  • Starbucks is going to try to return to the old-school style of coffee shop, which means offering beer and wine. They're just trying this at three stores in Seattle to see how well it will work. If it succeeds, look to see a glass of Cabernet offered beside a fancy Coffee on the menu. Of course, Starbuck's is still closing around 1,000 stores, so if it does take off, there may not be a Starbuck's near by to take advantage of it.
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Posted by Michelle at 1:26 pm in News | Permalink | Comments (3)
Jun 09

Dream Job: I Need Your Help to Get It

What a week!  First the redesign, then the Cincinnati.com news. Now I've got one more bit of news, but this one requires YOUR help. A lot of your help.

You don't have to donate anything except about a minute of your time to click on something safe. I think you'll get a chuckle out of the whole thing too.

Murphy-Goode Winery is offering a 6-month, $60,000 position to someone who wants to promote the winery via social media. They'll even provide you with a rent-free home in Healdsburg. Seeing as how I'm a wine blogger and a social media consultant, it seems amazingly up my alley. I want this job. Really bad.

In order to get this job, I had to create a 1-minute video. I thought about embedding it below, but really, I want to drive you to the site to vote. You get a screen cap instead.

So many people seemed to just sit and talk about wine. I think wine is part of the job, but understanding social media and marketing is more important. So I tried to tell a story, and I used the Wizard of Oz to do it. Of course, it's also an excuse to dress up like Dorothy.

WinemeDineme readers will notice a guest appearance by Julie as the wonderful Glinda the Goode Wine Witch. The video was shot at Harmony Hill, so my HUGE thanks goes out to Bill, Patti, & Evan for letting us traipse through the vines and borrow their dog. Kevin, his brother Steve, and Steve's girlfriend Sarah round out the cast. Filming was done by recent foodie blogger, Bryan.

I created an accompanying web site at http://www.rainbowgoode.com.
It's fun because it hosts the extended version (after all, it's hard to
tell a story in a minute) and the blooper reel. The blooper reel still
makes me laugh. Dogs are fun to work with ..

On the RainbowGoode site, you can view the various ways I'm trying to market the video, trying to drive votes. I am using every bit of social media I think is relevant – from my LinkedIn groups to this blog, from Facebook to Twitter. I picked up some Google AdWords and grabbed some bit.ly URLs. I'm amazed at the things that were available still.
I'm also not discounting traditional media, sending press releases to everyone I can think of. Want one?

I'd love to make the Top 50 folks, and hopefully, the Top 10. At the very least, maybe I'll land a social media job of some sort from all this effort. But in order to do any of that, I need your votes.
The contest ends June 19, so vote soon, vote often, and tell your friends!

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Posted by Michelle at 2:49 pm in Local, Marketing, News, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (2)

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