On Friday, Ellen and I strolled with Oscar along the misty High Line, until we were damp and chilled and ready for a drink. As we descended into the Meatpacking District, we wondered…Where could we go on a Friday night, looking more wet-dog than chic, with a baby stroller in tow for a drink? We walked up Washington a block and there it was–the Standard Beer Garden on Washington Street. “Was it you who complained about this being a beer garden that only sells beer in cans?” Ellen asked as we pushed through the crowd. And though no, it wasn’t me then, I am here to complain now–about the wines by the glass offered in the Beer Garden at the Standard Hotel.
It’s a beautiful space (of which I have no pictures), situated beneath the tracks. Soft light lamps hang from the tracks and there’s brick all around. Once we made our way through the crowd, there was plenty of room for us with the carriage, past the ping pong tables and bar. And while it seems that they serve bottles of beer and not cans, this is a beer garden with none on tap, but I’m not here to write about that. When I asked the waitress about wines by the glass, she asked me what I liked. Since the place was pretty packed, it was clear to me that she didn’t have all day…and so she brought us the list.
Five reds by the glass, including an $8 Cotes du Rhone, an $11 Syrah from Morocco, and A to Z Pinot Noir from Oregon at $13 a glass. Since I recalled reading good things about A to Z, and Pinot Noir is a perfect summer to fall transition wine, we ordered that; but the presence of a wine from Morocco on a five wine list, was our first clue–to which we should have paid greater attention–about the quality of the wines on their by-the-glass list. (Not that I have anything against wines from Morocco! But, if one is limited to selecting only five wines to serve by the glass, why not make them great?!?)
Our $13 wine arrived in a very small glass, with no room to swirl and sniff. Probably just as well, because there was nothing going on in the glass. Cherries, tannins, and flab. A glass of disappointment. To me it tasted like a cheap jammy Cotes du Rhone, which could/should sell for $7 or $8 a bottle, and not $13 a glass. So this got me thinking…how could any drinking establishment associated with a first class boutique hotel serve such crap? With all the beautiful wines in the world, joined by all the quaffable wines in stores for under $15 a bottle–how could anyone select and serve such wine?
Wanting to linger in each other’s company, we ordered a second glass–this time of their cheapest red, the Cotes du Rhone (producer not noted, since I wasn’t planning on blogging about this). And though it was actually better than the Pinot Noir, I know they could have chosen another inexpensive Cotes du Rhone, one that tasted much better than this.
This experience brings me to ask a couple of questions: What is it about the industry that allows calamities like to this to occur? Since I am not involved in the industry on this level, I’d really like to know how a place could get away with this. I know many who could assemble a more interesting and palatable list. Doesn’t the Standard have a reputation to uphold? Or do they have such low expectations for their patrons, that they assume no one knows the difference between quaffable wines and crap?
If anyone out there has any similar experiences, or answers to any of the above questions asked, please fire away below!