By: George Balling
How much is enough? Perhaps the better question is how much is the appropriate amount of wine to get based on the event and venue? Whether it be wine tasting in a shop or at a winery, or having a glass of wine at a restaurant the “industry” does have some standards we all use on what should be poured. Some times wine consumers have expectations on how much they should receive in their glass so we thought it might be good to share the standards we operate on.
Tasting at wineries all over the West used to be complimentary. Today, not so much. You will pay for tasting at most wineries, with some making exceptions for wine club members or refunding your tasting fee when you buy a bottle or two. Making a purchase of a bottle or more or some piece of merchandise when your tasting is complimentary at any venue including retails stores and wineries is customary. As far as pour size at a complimentary tasting you should expect an ounce or an ounce and a half. It is after all a wine tasting designed to help you learn about the wines and ultimately decide if there is something in the winery portfolio that you would like to purchase.
If you taste a wine that you think might be one you would like to own but you need to taste more than the ounce or ounce and a half you can typically ask to revisit the wine, most wineries and retailers will be happy to pour additional. These requests should be limited though for when you are zeroing in on your purchase decision.
When you pay for a tasting at a winery your expectations should be raised a bit. Now many wineries are doing sit down, tastings with a wine expert from the hospitality staff. These tastings in some parts of Napa can reach $100. They are pouring reserve bottles and others that sell for that much or more. The tastings also many times will be 4 wines or more, and may include snacks. Paid tastings, even the ones more modestly priced than this will typically state the size of their tasting pour but 2 ounces is the norm.
Most restaurants will pour either 3 or 4 ounces for their wines by the glass. Typically, this is stated on their wine by the glass list to avoid confusion and to manage our expectations. Many restaurants will have a very subtle line or some other marker like part of their logo etched on the glass to show their pour size. The mark helps servers hit the right amount in each glass of wine and it helps to ensure that guests receive the appropriate amount. One of the more ingenious tactics I’ve seen is at a restaurant right here in CDA where the edge of the glass rack on the back bar is right at the mark for their pour size. It makes it easy for staff and predictable for patrons. Another reliable measure is the small decanter that hold 3 or 4 ounces right at the neck of the decanter, staff will fill wine to that mark for a consistent amount of wine every time.
If a restaurant is offering a wine flight of 2 or 3 or 4 wines, they will also typically state the size of the pour. Two ounces is the norm. While some restaurant goers may feel a pour is too small, I have rarely found a restaurant here in CDA that consistently under pours.
At winemaker dinners and other preplanned events pour size will vary between 2 and 4 ounces. In most every case though the restaurant and their retail partner will state on the wine tasting notes or on the dinner menu the amount of the wine they will be pouring.
Here at The Dinner Party our pour size for wine tastings is an ounce and a half, and we always accommodate revisits of the wines we are tasting to help our guests and wine club members evaluate the wine thoroughly. The pour size at our winemaker dinners is typically 4 ounces.
All of us in the wine hospitality and restaurant industries work to be generous and consistent with the amount of wine we dispense. When you are out and about at a wine tasting or when you order a glass of wine it will help you be more comfortable if you know going in what to expect for your pour size, then you can relax and enjoy the wine.