Dana Delany, Celebrity Wine FAQ

Dana Delany, courtesy ABC

Dana Delaney’s new show Body of Proof premieres Tuesday (March 29) at 10:01 p.m. on ABC, but Anne actually caught up with her last summer at the TV Critics Press Tour in July.

Delaney’s been a pretty busy actor since she first splashed onto the scene in China Beach. In Body of Proof, she plays an emotionally out-of-touch former neurosurgeon who becomes a medical examiner and solves crimes.
We’re also guessing that while she really likes wine (“I’m a wino,” she told Anne), she doesn’t like too much at one time.

“Why?” you ask.

Because this was her wine question: “Why can’t we get better wines by the glass? Because you end up having to buy a bottle just to have a decent glass of wine. I really want to know the answer to that.”

Well, Ms. Delaney, the answer is actually pretty simple. It’s all about the money.

Wine by the glass, for a lot of restaurants, is considered a losing proposition. That’s why you will rarely find a restaurant’s best wines available by the glass. Instead, you’ll find the most popular wines or the less expensive house wines.

Part of it is that wine, once the bottle is opened, can go bad pretty quickly if it’s not preserved right and/or drunk soon enough, especially red wines. It’s called oxidation and it can leave a wine tasty pretty nasty. So if you buy one glass of a premium pinot noir and no one else does that night and the wine goes bad the next day, the restaurant is not only losing the price of the bottle, it’s losing the profit to be made on the other four to five glasses they could have sold from that bottle.

The other part is that the restaurant really does want you to buy the whole bottle of that premium pinot noir. It’s called the restaurant mark-up. Restaurants generally get their wines at wholesale prices, just like retail stores do. But they charge two to three times what you’d pay at a retail store for that bottle.

Sometimes, it’s justifiable, because to keep wine properly does add to a restaurant’s costs and you’re talking about a business that is traditionally run on razor-thin profit margins. So that extra profit from wine sales can mean the difference between staying open or closing. However, there are a lot of restaurants that do abuse this – as in $25 for a bottle of Columbia Crest, a mass-produced wine that sells in supermarkets for $8 when it’s not on sale. Puh-leeze!

The interesting thing is that the restaurants least likely to abuse the mark-up are the ones that are the most wine-centric. And the good news is you’re also going to find a lot more wines available by the glass at those restaurants. Why? They generally have the argon gas or other preserving methods that will keep an opened bottle of red fresh for several days. And they’re generally selling a lot more wine, so it’s less likely that they’re only going to sell one glass from that bottle of nice pinot noir.

You still won’t get the finest wines by the glass. But you’ll get wines that are better than the cheap house wine. And if you are in a restaurant with a good wine sensibility, don’t be afraid to try the house wine. It may, in fact, be pretty tasty.

4 thoughts on “Dana Delany, Celebrity Wine FAQ”

  1. Good points. Opening up a Soave, let’s say, means that only one good glass will come out of that bottle. Who else is going to ask for Soave. I love it. If I see it, I’d order it, while everyone else is asking for Chardonnay… or, maybe being really brave and asking for a Sauvignon blanc or a Viognier.

    1. I don’t think there is a single directory. Many vineyards are closed to the public as well as many of the smaller wineries. I would suggest narrowing it down to a state. Contact the State agency that deals with alcohol. All wineries with vineyards will have registered with them for tax reasons. But it will all depend on how serious the state is about keeping the information current and how open they are to sharing the info.

      Good luck.

    2. There isn’t a nationwide directory that we are aware of. Each state and growing region should have one but that’s not a guarantee because of attitudes from state to state. Google a specific state for a wine trade association or growers alliance.

      Good luck.

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