Some local wine news deserves an audience beyond the immediate readership for which it is intended.
Yesterday's Sacramento Bee, for one, produced this feature about the pricing of wine in restaurants. Chris Macias, The Bee's wine writer, got some wine-trade insiders to go on the record with several enlightening and candid comments about their marketing strategies. Sacramento sommelier Michael Chandler, for example, chides restaurateurs for the common practice of pricing wine-by-the-glass at their wholesale cost for an entire bottle. Boycott 'em, suggests Chandler, a motion that deserves seconding. And I'm a bit skeptical and puzzled by sommerlier Joe Vaccaro's remark that he ends up pouring a lot of leftover expensive wine down the drain rather than use a preservation system. Why not use that wine before it turns to educate the service staff by letting servers taste it and learn by it, a practice not unheard of at many restaurants?
And then there's this piece from the Santa Maria Times announcing the merging of four individual central-coast wine judgings into one comprehensive regional competition. The move, made at least in part to help wineries trim the expense of entry fees, is smart, and one I'd like to see emulated by three wine competitions in the Sierra foothills. For the past couple of decades, three wine counties in the Mother Lode - Calaveras, Amador and El Dorado - have had individual county-fair competitions. Each has been open to wineries from throughout the Northern Mines and Southern Mines. Why not merge them into one judging? It would cut the costs for vintners who enter more than one of the competitions, which several do. And an argument could be made that the results of one large high-profile judging would have more impact on both marketplace and regional standing than a series of smaller judgings.
Dinner at Cañete, Barcelona
1 hour ago