From a sommelier’s perspective, the magic formula for great restaurants’ wines by the glass seems to be a delicate dance between price and quality, accessibility and adventurousness, and, of course, availability on a scale to meet the demand. One sommelier firmly on the side of adventure by the glass is Jonathan Baird of Hatfield’s in Los Angeles, who may also possess one of the highest joie-de-job quotients around.
“I really love the ability to curate what I consider to be a fun by-the-glass program,” Baird tells us. ”I frequently and intentionally go out on limbs to challenge our guests when they choose to order wines by the glass. I do not like to put many well-known varietals and wine regions on this page. I use it as a tool to get our guests out of their wine-knowledge comfort zones and pour them something that is familiar to their taste buds but completely–and literally–foreign to what they expect.
“The wine world is enormous, and the by-the-glass program allows me to find really great values in really obscure varietals and areas. I love the “This is absolutely spectacular, thank you!” look on a guest’s face when I pour something they’ve never heard of from a place they didn’t know made wine. I’m not trying to force wine education on anyone, I just like to remind people that they should have fun with wine and not be intimidated by it. I have 22 wines open by the glass, and I’m very confident that I can pour something that will make anyone happy.”
Discover the Beaujolais that made Hatfield himself shout for joy–and much more wine lore–in this week’s In Vino Veritas issue.