S.W. and Rich Hermansen
Ordering wine by the glass offers a choice among at least several alternatives and a chance to experiment with less familiar varietals. A group of people may have different tastes and food pairings in mind; sharing a bottle forces some or all in the group to compromise on the choice of a mutually acceptable wine. One may also have a chance to chill at an outside table and watch the world go by while enjoying a six ounce pour and social distancing for health reasons or for a moment of reflection. A glass of wine in the afternoon, instead of a cocktail or beer, enlivens, rather than numbs, the rest of the evening.
Wine by the glass has its pitfalls as well. Far too often the choices show up in a line-up of opened bottles on a shelf behind the bar under blue florescent light. White wines best kept at 40-50F degrees and red wines best at 60F degrees warm in time to a common 70F degrees. Wine that waits too long in a capped bottle to be poured turns flaccid and tired. The wine glasses tend to be the common denominator for all varieties. Best to ask for a small taste of a wine by the glass to weed out the wines beyond their times. Ask to have a fresh bottle opened if a small taste of the wine from an open bottle doesn’t live up to its description by the server or on the wine list. We have asked sommeliers to compare a small pour from an opened bottle with a pour from a fresh bottle. The fresh bottle usually wins.
The proper setting for wine by the glass in the afternoon makes a difference. Alongside Gulf of Mexico Drive in Long Boat Key Florida, a few tables outside Whitney’s have a canopy of trees that reminds us of a more tropical versions of the Garden District of New Orleans. An orange stuffed orangutan sits on a branch midway up the trunk of a ficus. The floor of white pea gravel crunches under sandals. Dogs enjoy the shade while waiting for a hand-out. The wine list features several white wines by the glass. An old favorite, the Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2020 vintage ($9 glass) has the mellow taste of a French Rhone Valley Viognier. The bartender and wine buyer, Lucas Young, suggested the Broadbent Portuguese Vinho Verde ($7 glass) as a clean and refreshing blend of grapes from that region. A lot of thought went into the selection of wines by the glass. All of the white wines on the list pair beautifully with the fish sandwich (grouper) and a side garden salad.
Close by, Harry’s Continental Kitchen has outdoor seating on a side street. Wine buyer Hal Christensen selects premier Rhone rose wines for their wines by the glass list. For those looking to try different wines, he recommends the New Zealand 2021 The Ned Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region ($13 glass). It has a pleasing taste of citrus fruit.
On the balcony of Tony Bahama restaurant in St. Armand’s Circle, a glass of the 2020 Bex Riesling ($7 glass Happy Hour 3-5) from the Nahe region of Germany helps us share in the joy of children racing down the sidewalk below to Kilwin’s candies. The Riesling taste of stone fruit and mineral water lingers.
S. W. Hermansen has used his expertise in econometrics, data science and epidemiology to help develop research databases for the Pentagon, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and Health Resources and Services. He has visited premier vineyards and taste wines from major appellations in California, Oregon, New York State, and internationally from Tuscany and the Piedmont in Italy, the Ribera del Duero in Spain, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale in Australia, and the Otego Valley in New Zealand. Currently he splits time between residences in Chevy Chase, Maryland and St. Armand’s Circle in Florida.
Rich Hermansen selected has first wine list for a restaurant shortly after graduating from college with a degree in Mathematics. He has extensive service and management experience in the food and wine industry. Family and friends rate him as their favorite chef, bartender, and wine steward. He lives in Severna Park, Maryland.