Wine Enthusiast's February issue included a sidebar written by Aileen Robbins in a section listing their recent Restaurant Award Winners that highlighted a few wine-related trends that were noticed in 2009. If these trends continue into 2010, the restaurant and wine-bar scene will become even more inviting for all of us!
1. More low-to-medium priced wines - How many more $15 glasses and $100 bottles are we going to have to endure at restaurants this year? Hopefully, not many more as the trend is to feature more bottles in the $25-50 range from the world's more up-and-coming wine regions including, but not limited to, Chile, Argentina and Australia. While the price might be right, sounds like some of our favorite regions may need to be sacrificed. Let's hope that is not the case.
2. High-end Restaurants Follow Suit - Fine dining establishments creating new sections to their hefty wine lists to highlight values such as "30 wines for $30." I wouldn't be surprised to also see some of these 100+ wine lists to reduce in size and complexity as well. A friend in the restaurant business is doing just that with a 200-wine list he is looking to simplify.
3. Expect the Unexpected - If you have read many of the reviews in this column, you know that variety is the spice of life including getting your hands on some wines you may not be used to. Aileen says more restaurants are recognizing the adventurous wine drinker in offering grapes and regions that are a little bit more off the beaten track.
4. Sparklers from Abroad - Restaurants are reaching out to more places for sick sparklers including Italy (Prosecco), Spain (Cava) and The New World. While the author does not expand on what she expects from the New World specifically, there are some awesome sparkling wine coming from California and 25% of wines from Brazil are sparklers. The 2006 Miolo Brut is nice.
5. Smaller Formats - More choices by the glass and half-bottles means you can try more various wines and restaurants like it when you continue to order wine as part of the meal. In a previous review, I mentioned the Fleming's 100 by-the-glass options which is a good example of this.
6. Take Flight - Restaurants are becoming more comfortable with offering flights as ways to get you to try different styles and more of them. Great value-pricing for these flights are following suit, so take advantage.
7. Cork This! and Uncorked Nights - A significant number of establishments are dropping their corkage fees altogether and offer discounts on their bottles if you choose from their menu after the bottle you brought in. Some are also offering special bottle prices (up to 50% off!) on specific nights. d'Vine Wine Bar in Dunwoody offers Uncorked Mondays where for a fixed $18 price you can get tastes (2 oz.) pours of all opened bottles (often 30 or so available) until empty. Pretty cool.
It looks like restaurants and bars are doing what they can to get you to visit their establishment and sounds like some really good deals are around. What are you waiting for?