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December 6, 2009

Sunday morning musings on wines by the glass

ArgentinianMalbecs.jpgWhen I spoke to Saundra Batey, co-owner of Ullswater, last week for next Wednesday's Table Talk, she mentioned a minor but interesting fact. Although their new restaurant in Riverside is Italian, she said that by far their best selling wine by the glass was a Malbec from Argentina.

I had noticed since my trip to Argentina last Christmas (and, boy did I drink a lot of Malbec there) that it was showing up on wines-by-the-glass lists more here in Baltimore, but I hadn't realized it was that popular. ...

I wonder what makes a particular wine in fashion as a by-the-glass drink, and if it's different from what people are drinking by the bottle in restaurants. I would think it would, because the latter you're more likely to be drinking with food.

Maybe certain wines "hold" better once the bottle is open, so therefore they taste better when you get a glass from the last of a bottle that's sitting around.

Remember that song "Friday Night Fever" by George Strait where his significant other drinks only "a sip from a small glass of chablis" when they go out? Can you even get "chablis" by the glass in a bar anymore? I don't think so. (Occasionally I still see it as the house wine in a Chinese restaurant.)

I'm not even sure what the most popular white wine by the glass is these days. I would guess it's either Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

(Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 8:48 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Wine and Spirits


I don't know about Malbec, but I am impressed when you work a George Strait lyric into your post.

If you're a good boy, Santa will bring you a copy of Elizabeth's Greatest C & W Hits for Christmas. It's on there. EL

I rarely buy wine by the glass anymore. I was honestly surprised that Bill Bateman's had more selections by the glass than "white" and "red". They must have about 20 kinds by the glass now.

I certainly know of the great Malbec wine,It was a staple on the wine list from a very popular Federal Hill Restaurant that I managed at the turn of the century and yes, the restaurant is still there, although I'm unsure about the wine. The wine though, as I recall was inexpensive in general but with a good flavor that went well with beef, and duck.

Until the 70's or so, Chablis and Burgundy were generic names for (cheap) dry white and red wines respectively. Up until quite recently people still assume that zinfandel is pink. We've come a long way.

Is chardonnay not still the most popular white by the glass?

Real Chablis (from the Chablis region of Burgundy) is made mostly from chardonnay grapes.

We had an excellent chablis with our dinner at home last night Chez Dahlink, but couldn't remember the last time we had had chablis. We were wondering why certain wines fall out of favor, but I think Dan D may have answered that question!

Dahlink, the old American 'Chablis' was usually a blend of French Colombard, Chenin Blanc and ?Sauvignon Blanc. These days a Chablis, as Hal Laurent mentioned, refers to the original French version which is why it is usually quite good.

Me personally? I prefer Mad Dog 20/20. You don't even need a glass to drink it.

Oh no, captcha stirring up trouble among rap artists, "beating 50c".

Malbec is pretty approachable - full bodied, not very tannic - and it's also very affordable. You can get some great ones for under $15 a bottle. A good Cab could take awhile to open up, and is probably a lot more expensive to boot. So I guess most people will drift towards the Malbec on the menu...

I don't usually buy Malbec by the glass, since it's usually pretty overpriced that way...

MD20/20, huh Trixie? How 'bout some Boone's Farm to go with that? Sound like one of my tragic incident parties of long ago!

I'm sure the true wine lovers will scoff, but I've been really enjoying Sutter Home's White Merlot.

I prefer Mad Dog 20/20. You don't even need a glass to drink it.

But you do need a paper bag.

Well I just dashed off an email to the powers that be at Oceanaire and hopefully they will get it right. After all there is aBIG difference between Mesclun and Mescaline, and Mesculin simply doesn't exist anywhere, except in Baltimore's fractured language. I once was served a "vegetable melody" in a Canton restaurant

You are not dreaming, EL, there are definitely more Malbecs available these days, and I am even starting to see Tempranillos, both of which I will always order, because I prefer a less tannic wine.

**Be right back...need to go buy a lottery ticket because my Catcha is "$14,000,000 shopping".

I sell alot of malbec, I even have 2 offered on the wine list. the most popular white in my bar is pinot grigio followed by reisling and chardonnay although across the board I belive chardonnay to still be the best seller nation wide.

Mdtopdad- there is a big difference! mescaline was popular in the 70's, it was $2 a hit and it would keep you tripping for 12 hours. it is a psycadelic derivative of peyote!

Years ago I went to DiMimmo's and was told they only sold wine by the bottle which at the time was deplorable as I was the only one having a glass and was the driver. Does anyone know if they have changed that rule there? Haven't been back since!

I don't know about DiMimmo's, balmorhon cause I can't afford to walk in their doorway, but you can now cork your "leftover" wine and take it with you, I believe.

Yes Damimmo still does not sell wine by the glass. They only offer it in the bar not in the dining room

Malbec is popular because it's in discovery phase. Consumers are learning what Zevonista points out: good Malbec can be had cheap. It may be selling better by the glass now because the Malbec-aware are telling their pals about it and it's cheaper to test a glass than a bottle. But I suspect it's more likely that a critical mass of Malbec cognoscenti has been reached. Malbec is the new Merlot as Pinot Grigio is the new Chard.
Or words to that effect and I am, of course, completely guessing.
Captcha: old exorcize

shill spam at 9:35

The menu that Chef Nicholas Batey offers at Ullswater (former owner of the Bicycle) is an excellent compliment for the wine.
restaurant: 554 E. Fort Avenue -
Federal Hill

The 10:58 am post is spam.

Not anymore. :-) That was a tricky one, wasn't it? I might not have caught it. EL

Hal, I'd say the 10:58 post was more of a shill.

Haven't we had problems with shilling from that quarter before?

The name linked to some weird site that had nothing to do with Baltimore or restaurants. The comment was just stuff taken from the Ullswater Web site. So I just left the comment and took out the URL. EL

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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