Cincinnati is fortunate to have many fine restaurants which serve as venues for our dine arounds. During the event, especially at the reception where we sample each other’s wines, many of these restaurants don’t have adequate space relative to the number of attendees, which poses a host of logistical challenges. This document, in a light hearted way, attempts to shine a light on some of these challenges as well as suggesting some solutions.
A. Identifying a “Quality” Dine Around Bottle to Share
Although a wine’s price and production level (number of cases produced of a particular wine by a winery) doesn’t necessarily equate to quality and uniqueness, there’s an undeniably strong correlation. Excluding those rare instances when you discover a small/new producer selling a fantastic wine for $12.99, it’s probably not a wine you’ll want to bring to a Chaîne dine around. Some useful guidelines that can help identify a “quality” wine for a Chaîne dine around might be:
- If the wine is advertised on a TV commercial, it might not be a good dine around choice.
- If the wine is in a clearance cart at Jungle Jim’s, it might not be a good choice for a dine around.
- If the wine seems really inexpensive to you, it might not be a good choice. (This can be determined by tasting a bottle first and if it’s a great varietal representation and unique, go for it!)
- If the producer makes 45,000 cases of the same wine (ie. Yellow Tail, KJ Chardonnay, etc) it probably does not satisfy the “uniqueness” hurdle.
- If the wine appears frequently on the ‘by the glass’ wine list of a modest national chain restaurant, think twice.
If you don’t maintain a wine cellar (relatively few actually do), your local wine shop would love to help you choose a “quality” dine around wine. Remember, your name’s on the bottle!
B. Avoid the “Corked Bottle Orphanage”
Depending on what stats you read, somewhere between 3% and 5% of wines are “corked”. The corked smell is TCA, a compound that smells like a musty basement or wet cardboard. Many people who consume wine don’t realize when this flaw is present…but most Chaîne members have some experience with this industry problem. It’s not uncommon for one or two bottles of corked wine to appear at a dine around, only to be ostracized and sit as an orphan for the duration of the night…with your name on it! To avoid this situation please smell and taste the wine you bring when the bottle is opened and, if corked, remove it from the table yourself. Some members bring a back-up bottle just in case their bottle is corked. You’re not required to bring a back-up, but some do.
C. “Tasting Pour Violation! Go Directly to Jail!”
Probably one of the most serious dine around fouls is a “Tasting Pour Violation”. A tasting pour violation occurs when an attendee finds a wine they like and proceeds to fill their glass like it was a 42 ounce beer boot! A foul of the highest order, this violation limits the number of members who can taste the wine and generates uncomfortable dine around gossip… about the violator! A typical “heavy” tasting pour is about 2 to 3 ounces of wine. If you restrict your pours to about this amount, at least 8-12 people will have the opportunity to taste the wine before it’s gone.
D. “Do the Hustle”
The Cincinnati Chaîne is a victim of its success! It’s pretty much the rule, rather than the exception that the wine serving area can get crowded at a dine around venue. The overcrowding problem becomes acute when attendees get stalled at the wine tables enjoying a fine beverage and fellowship! The resulting traffic jam and inability of others to get to the wines significantly diminishes the experience for our wine drinking confrères. To minimize frustration and congestion, after you’ve snagged a tasting pour of your favorite wine of the moment, please hustle away from the table so others can partake as well.
E. “Rogue Bottle Syndrome”
A disease that was nearly eradicated after a dine-around about six years ago, on rare occasions it resurfaces. The primary symptom of this affliction is the movement of an attendee’s wine bottle from the pouring table to the dining table at dinner. The only way of not contracting this disease is to leave all wine bottles on the wine pouring tables.
F. Jack and Jill Went up the Hill (but not over it)
The joy of having a wine cellar is that you are able to enjoy older wines. The tragedy of a wine cellar is that you may not get to those wines until they’re over the hill. If you’re considering bringing an older vintage, unless you’ve tasted it recently, you might consider bringing a back-up bottle just in case it’s crested the hill and started its tumble.