Does Your Steakhouse Invest in a Wine-by-the-Glass Program?
A good steakhouse can be the perfect location to celebrate a promotion, the completion of a highly anticipated deal, a graduation, or to pop the question. Steakhouses can also serve as a creative barometer for the health of the economy—a concept often referred to as the "Steakhouse Index."
Diners are starting to flow back into high-end steakhouse restaurants, but they remain guarded with their purchases. Often drawn in by promotions, like happy hours, diners are still not indulging at the level they did in the early 2000s, although the interest is still there.
For wine enthusiasts, a steakhouse can often be a wonderful place to find superior wine-by-the-glass selections. Steak and wine—red wine specifically—happen to be a time-tested match made in heaven.
Think Caymus 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon with a Porterhouse steak cooked just how you like it. Let that thought resonate. If you haven't had the good fortune to experience this or similar, you might want to add it to your bucket list. It is the proverbial "feast for a king." Of course, there are many other fantastic pairings one could choose, and having those options is important.
Unfortunately, the Caymus 2012 Cab is most often found only by the bottle, and that can get pricey.
It can be difficult to find most premium wines by the glass in many establishments. The economical restrictions often hamper premium wines from making it on the by-the-glass list. Over-pouring and spoilage are just a couple of the challenges that limit these wines strictly to full bottle purchases, unless that establishment cares enough about its wine by the glass to invest in a wine dispensing and preservation system.
There are plenty of high-end steakhouses that truly care about their wine by the glass; you just have to spend some time finding these places. Here are some favorites that use a wine dispensing system by WineEmotion.
CHIANINA | Long Beach, California
The Chianina cattle breed is one of the oldest breeds, originally raised in Central Italy. This American steakhouse with Italian influences serves a wide range of cuts, all butchered in-house from certified Piedmontese beef.
Chianina's general manager, Alejandro Duran, wears many hats. His credentials include chef, sommelier, and most recently, manager of all things. At his previous location in Texas, he oversaw a wine list of 450 wines being rotated on a regular basis. At Chianina he uses his extensive cooking knowledge with his wine experience to cultivate a list that guests love and explore for new favorites.
Chianina's main focus, of course, is beef, which makes pairing wine all the more important. "We sell a lot of high-end wines from all over the world—Spain, Chile, Argentina, Italy, and of course California. Having an extensive variety guarantees the right pairing for any circumstance," Duran says. But providing extensive variety in a wine program, especially a wine-by-the-glass program, can be challenging to say the least.
"Our WineEmotion system allows us to offer a wide selection of high-end wines without worrying about spoilage and over-pouring. Our guests love it for its display beauty and the tasting option." On many occasions, Duran explains, guests who are apprehensive about an unfamiliar expensive wine have tasted it first and then ended up purchasing several glasses.
BOURBON STEAK | Glendale, California
Created by Chef Michael Mina, Bourbon Steak offers a timeless dining experience with classic and contemporary dishes. The classic steakhouse incorporates all the traditional charm with whimsical twists like a tableside Japanese whiskey service.
Bourbon Steak sommelier Catherine Morrel finds spoilage to be one of her main concerns when creating a premium wine-by-the-glass list. "The WineEmotion system allows us to pour high-end wines by the glass without worrying about oxidation or spoilage issues," Morrel says. Guests are very pleased when they see high-end glasses like Hourglass HG III or Aldo Conterno Barolo on the list.
Sometimes a guest may not want the perfect wine to go with their main course, but later prefer a dessert finish of the liquid variety. "We also keep all of our Ports in the wine dispensing system where the extended life and measured pours are quite appreciated," Morrel adds.
VALLONE'S HOUSTON | Houston, Texas
A "modern classic," all menu items feature a technique-driven approach to dry-aged steaks and chops, fresh seafood, and Tony Vallone's signature housemade pastas. The restaurant's cozy ambience gives diners the warm steakhouse feel with the unique big flair of Texas.
Currently at Vallone's, some of the more popular wines-by-the-glass are from Gaja and Aldo Conterro. Full bottle selections are very popular with guests, especially with the jaw-dropping 30-foot wine display tower centered in the restaurant.
Vallone's partner Scott Sulma uses his extensive wine experience to cultivate the perfect wine pairings for guests. "For a California Cab-driven restaurant like Vallone's," Sulma says, "WineEmotion allows us to open our favorite Italian wines and serve them by the glass when we normally wouldn't be able to do so."
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