The Vine Print

Finally, a restaurant that knows how to serve wine Among the three dozen or so e-mails I received following my comparison of Boat Street Caf頡nd Brasa was this one from the owner of Avenue One: "I want [my] prices to encourage wine consumption, not to gouge, because I am a self-confessed wine geek with a passion about wine and food. I like nothing better than turning people on to new wines." As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, and I sampled the pudding. Avenue One has everything I look for in a restaurant wine list: clarity, variety, a wide range of prices, and fairness. I was shocked by how many wines they offer by the half-bottle (over 20), allowing patrons to precisely match wine with food. Even the way the wine was served was a vast improvement. Instead of lurking around after pouring a small taste, waiting for me to wax eloquent, the waiter poured a little for my wife and me, then left briefly while we ruminated. Folks, this is how wine is supposed to be offered and served. Congratulations, Arnie, on reaching your goal of serving spectacular French food along with an intelligent, creative, and fair wine list. Avenue One is located at 1921 First, between Virginia and Stewart (441-6139). The best wine ever made? Never let it be said that your intrepid wine reporter isn't adventurous. I always enjoy trying an unusual wine, just to widen my experience. So my eyes widened when I saw that Avenue One offered a (get this!) 1845 Cossart Gordon Madeira. While I'm not recommending you run out and buy a bottle (not that you'd find one), wine lovers should make it a point to stop by Avenue One and try a glass of this liquid gold. This pre-Civil War dessert wine made me dizzy with humongous flavors of caramel, toasted pecans, and coffee. You'd expect to pay a fortune for this wine, and you will: $85 a glass. But you may never have another opportunity to try something this old or this magnificent. Hurry, they have only three bottles left! DENNIS, Why do some restaurants serve wine in carafes? JERRY JERRY, Because they're embarrassed to bring the jug to your table. Generally speaking, wine in carafes is the cheapest wine the restaurant carries. Since wine in jugs has a (rightfully) horrendous reputation, restaurants pour the wine into small carafes for appearance's sake. Next time, don't order just "red" or "white." DENNIS E-mail:

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