Ten things that will never happen:

The Maine Legislature will summon the courage necessary to override restaurant-industry protectionism and enact a law allowing diners to bring their own bottles of wine to dinner if they pay a “corkage” fee. Restaurants, despite their legitimate concerns regarding waitstaff gratuities and customers’ abuse of the leeway offered, will permit BYO and set parameters that curtail the risks.

Customers will appreciate the trust and opportunity they’ve been granted and diligently take pains to avoid abusing the policy: Call ahead, bring an appropriate bottle, tip well, offer tastes to staff, etc. (Meanwhile, we have unlicensed restaurants where one can BYO. Thanks, Schulte & Herr!)

Other way around: No customer choice. Chefs will follow the natural conclusion of an argument that beverages and food are inherently complementary, and will mandate a slim roster of beverage pairings for particular dishes. You can’t order the mushroom salad with cheddar instead of goat cheese, nor can you order it without either the Vouvray, a house-made moss-and-tarragon-infused sorrel juice, or hefeweizen. For the roast duck, it’s this French Pinot, that Sonoma dry muscat or the high road.

Retailers en masse will slip off their wimped-out chains and refuse to mention point scores in their attempts to sell wine. To compensate for resulting customer confusion, they will no longer classify and organize the wines they sell according to geography (which is excessively abstract), but according to overall profile (bold/hearty, delicate/light, earthy/savory, fruity/sweet), context (on the patio, book club, special occasion, meditation, geek-a-rific, with grilled meat), cultural category (film genres, quarterbacks, poetry forms, celebrity hairdos) or personality type (assertive, introspective, outgoing, class clown, bearing the weight of the world, selfless, anxious).

Restaurants will charge less for wine, rearranging overall house pricing structure if necessary. They are sourcing ingredients conscientiously and preparing food with care based on long-term training of human beings: Charge appropriately for that! With wine, they are buying a ready-made product and moving it from the back of the building to the front of it: Charge appropriately for that as well. Customary 100 percent markup over retail price is offensive.


Servers, as they attend wine trade shows this spring, will, before they get buzzed and sloppy, find at least one wine not on their restaurants’ current lists that they adore. They will spend some time noting why they adore it. They will subsequently implore their restaurant’s bar manager or wine buyer to carry this wine, making an eloquent case for its inclusion on the list.

Wine nerds, nerds-to-be and other eager amateurs or professionals will reallocate at least 35 percent of time currently devoted to keeping up with every emerging region, rescued-from-obscurity varietal, vintage reassessment and winemaker star-copulation (and blogging about it) toward the reading of fiction, the holding of someone’s hand, the building of a treehouse and/or attendance at a house of worship. 

More retailers and restaurants will buy at least a few cases a year meant to be aged.

As these people well know, the wines need not be super prestigious or expensive; the primary considerations are the region and winemaker. Five or so years later, they will offer these bottles, marked up in price only enough to cover the opportunity cost involved in their investment, as a service to drinkers to educate them about the transformative splendors of an aged wine. Repeat: This will be a service, not an opportunity to make extra money.

Wine customers, now illuminated as to said splendors, will, regardless of income, buy a bottle at least twice a year to keep unopened for at least five years. They will do the small bit of additional research necessary to make a smart choice. (Quick advice for now: 2008 whites or reds from almost anywhere; 2010 Riesling from a reputable producer.)

Wine drinkers will buy and consume more dry sherry, northern Italian whites, Cabernet Franc and Madeira.

Wine writers will follow their own advice and stop telling everyone else what to do.

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog, soulofwine.com, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at: soulofwine.appel@gmail.com


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