Costs Going Up Wine Pours Shrinking!

Photo Credit: Brian Zak/NY Post

I came across this article from the New York Post and was struck by just how true it is here on the West Coast too! Are you feeling the same about higher prices & smaller wine pours where you are?

Article written by Beth Landman, “You’re Not crazy, wine pours are shrinking” appeared June 23, 2022 in the New York Post

When international investor Brian Hogan took an important client to a favorite Midtown restaurant last month, he hoped to impress him. His guest ordered a Chablis by the glass rather than the bottle, and the sommelier poured it with due deference.

But, when the usually mild-mannered client looked down at his glass, he was shocked by the minuscule size of the serving. He summoned the manager and asked him to bring over a measuring cup.

“He thought the pour was ridiculous and offensive,” Hogan said. “When he measured, it turned out to be only 4 ounces.” The manager quickly delivered more wine to the glass, along with a profuse apology.

Inflation has hit the bottle. All over the city, from taverns to fine restaurants, diners are doing double takes as they receive reduced pours of wine at increased prices. A standard bottle of wine contains 25.4 ounces — meaning a generous 6-ounce pour will yield four glasses, a standard 5-ounce glass will deliver five and a measly 4 ounces will eke out six. Diners say they’re increasingly being served paltry pours, and industry insiders confirm their suspicions.

“I worked for Danny Meyer and we always gave 6 ounces,” said a sommelier at a popular new downtown restaurant. “When I got here I was quickly corrected and instructed to pour only 5.”

A somm at another Manhattan hot spot confided that “During COVID, we were told to make sure we got five glasses out of a bottle, rather than the four we were used to getting.”

A spokesperson for Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group confirmed that his restaurants still pour 6 ounces. At Isabelle’s Osteria and Barbounia in the Flatiron, they’re also sticking to 6 ounces.

“All our wine costs went up … but we felt that customers will forgive you if you overcook their meat a bit, but will not forgive you if you skimp,” said Vladimir Kolotyan, a partner in both restaurants. “So we added one dollar to some of the glass prices and left some the same, but never touched the size.”

The stingy servings are creating awkward situations. 

An Upper West Side entertainment attorney had some explaining to do to his ex-wife after she saw a bill from his dinner with their young adult children. 

“She was disturbed by the number of wine glasses consumed, but I explained to her that we actually drank the same amount of alcohol we usually do; we just had to order more glasses,” said the man, who asked to remain anonymous for personal reasons.

Even those in the wine industry, while sympathetic to restaurant’s rising costs, are disturbed by the trend. 

“I’m willing to pay for quality and I feel shortchanged when I receive a small pour,’’ said Mark Fang, a 41-year-old wine blogger and certified sommelier who lives in Hell’s Kitchen. He recently dined at Marea and ordered an $18 glass of Grüner Veltliner that he estimated was a mere 4 ounces. 

“Normally I get only one glass of wine, but this time the pour was so small it didn’t last past the appetizer,” he said. “I like to enjoy wine with my entree, so I ordered a second glass … [in general] I know what bottles cost, and that hurts.”

“I’m blown away by how small the pours are.’’

Karen Harris

(A spokesperson for Marea’s Altamarea restaurant group said: “The standard operating procedure for pouring a glass of wine at Marea is 5 ounces. We do acknowledge that there is an occasional margin of error to take into account.”)

Karen Harris, 59, who lives on the Upper East Side and is an account executive for a wine importer and distributor, said that her entire portfolio has increased in price for the first time in four years. Still, she’s stunned by shrinking servings.

“I go to some places and think, ‘Are they serious?’” she said. “I’m blown away by how small the pours are.’’

Many restaurateurs insist that part of the problem is the trend towards using larger, better stemware that dwarfs the appearance of the wine.

A standard bottle of wine contains 25.4 ounces — meaning a generous 6-ounce pour will yield 4 glasses, a standard 5-ounce glass will deliver 5 and a measly 4 ounces will eke out 6. Above, a 6-ounce pour (left) and a 4-ounce pour.
Brian Zak/NY Post

Maximilian Riedel, CEO and president of glassware company Riedel, thinks COVID isolation is also to blame. “This is an issue of perception,’’ he told The Post. “For the past two years, we have all [been] helping ourselves to what’s in [our] cellars. Now that we are returning to in-person dining, a server’s measured pour likely appears more restrained.’’ To ensure servers hit their mark, Riedel glasses have a subtle indicator in the curve of the glass at what the company sees as the ideal pour: 5 ounces.

But some restaurateurs insist that 5 ounces isn’t enough for their demanding clientele. 

“I hear that in the city they are lowering servings and jacking up prices,’’ said Zach Erdem, owner of Southampton hot spots 75 Main and Blu Mar. “Here, if you give people 5 ounces, they will scream at you!’’

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Long Live Langer’s Deli!

Langer’s Number 19 Pastrami Sandwich

This article appeared in today’s Los Angeles Times – Nicholas Goldberg says it more perfectly than I ever could, so enjoy his ode to 75 years of the institution known as Langer’s Deli!

They’ve been making the world’s best pastrami sandwiches for 75 years. Can they keep it up? BY NICHOLAS GOLDBERG | COLUMNIST JUN 20, 2022 | 3:00 AM LOS ANGELES TIMES

The long, slow decline of the Jewish delicatessen has been bemoaned and lamented for many years. In the early 1930s, there were more than 1,500 kosher delis and many more non-kosher ones in the five boroughs of New York alone, according to city records. In recent years, the estimate fell to 150 in all of North America. That’s why it is a cause for celebration that Langer’s delicatessen, the venerable pastrami emporium on 7th and Alvarado near MacArthur Park, marked another milestone birthday this weekend. The restaurant, which opened with space for 12 customers in June 1947, is now 75 years old. Langer’s is, of course, a Los Angeles institution. In 1991, Jonathan Gold wrote in The Times: “The fact is inescapable: Langer’s probably serves the best pastrami sandwich in America.” In 2002, Nora Ephron went farther, declaring unequivocally in the New Yorker that Langer’s made the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world. She described it as “soft but crispy, tender but chewy, peppery but sour, smoky but tangy.” And, if I may be so bold, my recent lunch of matzo ball soup and hot pastrami on rye with sauerkraut confirmed — to my satisfaction, anyway — that those assessments still hold. Of course, if you don’t want pastrami, there are alternatives. You can have the corned beef (Mimi Sheraton called it “excellent” in a 42-year-old review that still hangs, fading now, in the restaurant’s window). Or blintzes, kasha varnishkes, latkes, a bowl of borscht or a knish with gravy. For dessert, noodle kugel. I guess you could also order the hamburger or even — don’t tell the ancestors, please — a ham and cheese sandwich. But that would be foolish. Ephron was snide about the decor. “It is decorated, although ‘decorated’ is probably not the word that applies, in tufted brown vinyl,” she wrote. That was 20 years ago, and that’s pretty much how it still looks today. She noted that Langer’s always seems to be just barely hanging on. That’s also still true. The sufferings of Jewish delis over the years have been legion, the challenges monumental: There’s the passing of the shtetl generation and its children. The assimilation of its grandchildren. The dispersal of the Jewish population from the cities to suburbs (and, in the case of Langer’s, from Westlake-MacArthur Park to the San Fernando Valley and the Westside). Rising rents. The climbing costs of ingredients. The tut-tutting of cardiologists everywhere, what with all the fat, carbohydrates and salt. More recently, the COVID closures. And now, a new burst of inflation. The price of a pastrami sandwich at Langer’s rose recently to $22, a number that even its owner, Norm Langer, concedes is meshuga. “Is half a pound of meat, two slices of rye bread and a pickle worth $22?” he asks. “I don’t know. But I’ve got to make ends meet.” When the restaurant first opened, a pastrami sandwich cost about 35 cents. When The Times mentioned the deli in 1973, the price had risen to $1.75. In 2002, it was $8.50. Langer is 77 years old. He says he has no plans to retire. “I get up in the morning, I’ve got to go somewhere,” he says. “Everybody needs a place to go.” The restaurant was opened by his father, Al Langer of Newark, N.J., who’d gotten his start in delis years earlier when his mother sent him to work to raise money to help pay for his $35 bar mitzvah. In 1947, Al was living in L.A., was recently out of the service and had saved $500. He borrowed a few thousand more. In those days, the Westlake-MacArthur Park neighborhood had a big, middle-class Jewish population. At one point the restaurant had so much business it stayed open nights until 3 a.m. Now it closes at 4 p.m. In the 1980s, The Times wrote endless stories about the troubles facing the deli because of the changing neighborhood, including one histrionic article about MacArthur Park headlined “Winos, Dopers, Crime Overrun City Landmark.” But Langer’s hung on. The restaurant got a needed boost in 1993 when Metro’s Red Line opened, with a subway station just a block and a half away. Crowds flocked in from downtown. “I saw 500 people lined up to get into Langer’s and I told Norm, ‘It was worth spending $1.2 billion to keep you in business,’ ” said then-County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a regular. In L.A. today the delis that still exist include Canter’s, which opened in 1931 in Boyle Heights and only later moved to its location on Fairfax. Also Art’s Deli, Nate ’n Al’s and Wexler’s. There’s Brent’s Deli. To name just a few. But they keep closing down. Izzie’s in Santa Monica shut its doors in May. Greenblatt’s in West Hollywood closed in 2021 after 95 years. New delis have opened, in some cases with modern, sustainable or health-conscious twists on the classic cuisine. Less shabby, less irascible, they’re gambling that deli food can be gentrified and rejuvenated. But pastrami, let’s face it, is an acquired taste. So are creamed herring, chicken liver, tongue, whitefish salad and other old country staples. The bagel may be firmly embedded in the American food pantheon, but traditional Ashkenazi deli fare of the sort that flourished in the years after the great Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe is unquestionably endangered. And with it a tangible link to the culinary past. A connection to the forefathers. A piece of the collective culture. The good news is that reports of its extinction have proved premature so far, as Langer’s demonstrates. So rather than rend my garments, I’ll make the most of it while I can (and hope my heart holds out).

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I Guess Adult Pickles Are a Thing

Leave millions of people in isolation, with time to fill, an internet full of ideas + the ability to get anything you need to bring weird ideas to life shipped to you, and what do you get?

Apparently a whole lot of drunk people eating pickles! I’ve seen whiskey pickles, tequila pickles, Old Bay and vodka pickles, beer and pickles, apple infused vodka pickles, and even candied pickle pops made with vodka & Kool-Aid. I’m not a trendy, #TikTok kind of girl, but I’m up for a challenge, the boys are coming over for Father’s Day & I can’t wait to give this a try so I can see their faces when they take their first bites.

Drunken Pickles

2 C Small Pickles or Gherkins

1 C Pickle Juice

1 C Good Bourbon – I like Makers Mark

5 Sprigs of Dill

A Few Dashes of Hot Sauce – I like Frank’s Red Hot

If You like a little more kick, add a few shakes Red Pepper Flakes

4” Cocktail Skewers

  1. In a medium bowl, combine pickles with pickle juice, whiskey, dill and hot sauce. Refrigerate for at least an hour. I plan to leave them overnight.
  2. Drain and skewer pickles. Serve.

Recipe courtesy of Lena Abraham, Senior Food Editor, Delish Magazine, June 30, 2017; Photo credit: Chelsea Lupkin

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