Poor storage conditions at "wine bars"

I wouldn’t be worried about bottles standing upright, assuming they are going to work through the inventory in a couple months. I wouldn’t worry about the wines being at room temperature for that period, either, assuming the place doesn’t get hot in the off hours if AC is off.

What I would worry about is those wines on the top shelf, in a closed, lighted cabinet. I think those could cook in pretty short order – in a matter of days or weeks of they aren’t consumed.

You’ve never had a glass that was corked or clearly oxidized from being open too long?

Not yet. But I’m new to wine. Maybe one year into it so… What do I really know

When we were there, I didn’t do an in-depth examination of the wines in that cabinet versus the wines on the list. Even so, it wouldn’t surprise me if the more expensive/trophy wines were kept in a separate location. It’s likely that the cabinet is used for easy access to wines that sell the fastest.

I’ll also comment that storage conditions at many wine retailers can be sub-optimal–wines standing upright for display (often for a lengthy period of time), and wines kept at “room temperature” in the 70’s.


I went through three bottles a few weeks ago to get one glass. First bottle- oxidized. Sent back. Second- clearly corked. Sent back. Third one was just right! I felt like Goldilocks. Can’t fault the service though.

I just happen to pick on AOC because this dawned on me when I was there a few nights back. I’ve had one bad wine by the glass, but the bottles have all been fine (all relative quick movers under $70).

My point was this… wouldn’t the so-called “wine bars” want to at least have proper storage conditions for their wines? I’m not a restauranteur by any means, but it seems like these hip joints are more concerned with displaying all their inventory for people to see… room-temp and upright. I understand that in the short term it’s not a big deal for either. If the owners/mgmt of these places are true wine-lovers, wouldn’t they want to treat the wines better than this? That’s all I’m saying…

Any place above a certain level will taste every single wine they open (we do, and we’re a measly brasserie), and thus reduce the number of oxidized and/or corked bottles they serve drastically. It’s better that they/we get the poor experience than you. Also; people (at least here) tend to send back too few bottles.

I’m a naturally quiet person, so getting over the hump of sending something back was a big deal initially. What I’ve found is that in most cases, the server/somm actually seems to appreciate that someone is paying attention for once and is happy to replace it, or they don’t know enough to tell why its flawed and want to know more, so it turns into a learning moment. It is kinda ironic that the one downright bad experience I had was at a restaurant that I really like’s wine bar. I had had dinner there multiple times, always with wine, and it was great. Was short on time one weekend so went there with some out of town friends for a snack and a glass and ordered something that turned out to be both too warm and open too long. The winebartender launched into the “this tastes great, the guy over there is drinking it, but i guess I’ll replace it if you insist but it seems like a waste” sequence. There was a new manager on duty for the night who also didn’t know why it was flawed, but Next glass was way better, having been freshly pulled from their temp controlled cabinet, but it was still one of the only times I’ve not left a tip in my life. You can’t work a bev position in a decent place and not assume that you’re going to have flawed bottles/returned drinks/waste. You also can’t demean your customers, however knowledgeable, when they return something.

On a side note, a trick I used to love when I was working at a restaurant in college was using the “I don’t like it, therefore its flawed” returned bottles that you get as BTG specials the rest of the night, as well as free sample pours for interested looking folks. There wasn’t a single night where we didn’t sell at least another full bottle of whatever got returned, and there were some regulars that seemed to develop a “sixth sense” for non-faulty returned bottles and knew to ask even before I offered, haha. It was at that point when it dawned on me why Olive Garden was always trying to push my parents for the free sample of whatever house plonk they had at the time when I was a kid.

I would expect the upper-tier wines to be stored properly. For the cheaper wines, I think purely out of pragmatism and space reasons most places have to store standing up. Even in many wine stores, it’s only the more expensive wines that are lying down and in temperature control.

I’m more concerned about service temperature though. A restaurant/bar that, out of their own initiative, offers to cool down a bottle of red that is taken from the main dining area (typically above ideal drinking temperature) deserves commendation.

This is my pet-peeve.