Bring Your Own Wine

Upon arriving home and welcomed by the warm embrace of my family, we all decided to celebrate birthdays and good health by going to an Italian steakhouse in downtown Albany. I was looking forward to this meal because I love steak as well as Italian food – mix them together you have a mouth party! So we sit down and our waiter, who looks like he just checked himself into rehab 3 days prior, asks us if we’d like to order some wine for our dinner. I was appointed the official “wine picker” since I’ve tasted a diverse range of wines this past year. So, I shooed the waiter away and looked at the wine offerings. Now, this restaurant wasn’t a “fancy” restaurant. It would be the equivalent to a low-grade Steak and Ale, but a little more fun with Italian singers framed on the walls and a hoppin’ bar on one side of the restaurant. Nevertheless, you’d think the wine list would be fairly comprehensive. Well, not so much. There were maybe 10 wines listed overall, 2 or 3 from each grape (Merlot, Cabernet Sauv, Pinot Grigio, etc.). And, wouldn’t you know it, Red Rock’s Merlot from 2006 was listed as one of the wines. I nearly fell out of the booth. Honestly I wouldn’t pick Red Rock as the perfect Merlot to go with Italian or steak, but what the heck. The kicker? A bottle of it went for $25. That’s right folks, a bottle you can get for $10 at the store and for which the restaurant paid perhaps $6-7 given they order by the case went for $25. And so, the subject of this blog comes to light. If at all possible, bring your own wine to your restaurant experience!

Save Some Cash

If you know you’re going to a nice restaurant, it pays (as you’ll see in your bill) to pick up a bottle and bring it to your dinner. Some restaurants are ok with this and some are not, so check with them beforehand. While making those reservations, ask about bringing your own wine. Aside from saving yourself some cash, which is beneficial during these hard economy times, you will also benefit from choosing a wine that you enjoy, not choosing from a list of wines you know little about.

Be Selective, Do Some Research

Depending on the occasion, however, you may want to be selective with your favorite wines. If you’re celebrating an anniversary or birthday, it may not be the time to pick the $6 Yellowtail. If you don’t know of a “decent” wine, something that is a little more exotic than Robert Mondavi, do some research. Gary Vaynerchuk has some nice suggestions, so check him out. Also, go to your local liquor store and they should have a wine specialist who could help you out. Just tell him/her that you’re going out for a nice meal at any restaurant and you should get some nice suggestions with a varied price range.

Enjoy Your Choice, Show Off Some Wine Knowledge

Another benefit from choosing your own wine for an occasion is showing off your wine knowledge. Aside from being a little pompous and flipping the pinky way up into the air while sipping, you can suit the wine itself to the occasion and show the person of honor that you care. Picking a wine is like picking a present – you can choose something random and without much feeling, or you can choose something that the person will really enjoy and be touched that you put some thought into it. Picking something at the restaurant can be a little more sanitary because you’re limited with the restaurant’s list. So, get your favorite wine and go to town!


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