The waiter approached and pointed at the empty wine glass, as if to ask if I would like another. "Yes, I would," I said, "but, no, I won't." We both laughed. It was a workday, and I was about to return to the office. If only they offered a half-glass of wine, I thought, before asking for the check.
Restaurants have upped their game on wine-by-the-glass selections over the past few decades. Some of us are old enough to remember when there were but two choices: Chablis (a white wine of unknown origin) or Burgundy (a red wine of unknown origin). Those wines were generally plonk, going by borrowed place-names to give them the appearance of class.
The wine-by-the-glass concept has come a long way since that dreary era, but there is more work to be done. As a frequent traveler, I applaud the options I find in many airport restaurants and wine bars. It is common to be offered a choice of a 6-ounce pour or a 9-ounce pour when ordering a glass of wine.
Six ounces is very generous. Most restaurant pours are five ounces. But 9 ounces is a supersize glass of wine — in reality, one-third of a bottle.
Restaurants and customers would both be well-served by a half-glass option equal to about 3 or 4 ounces. Such an offering would satisfy patrons who would like just a little more wine but not a full glass, especially at lunch on a workday.
Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.
CaMaiol 2016 Giome, Benaco Bresciano Rosso IGP, Italy ($14) — If you're looking for something different in a red wine for summer, Giome from CaMaiol could be the ticket. This eclectic blend of indigenous grapes — groppello, marzemino, barbera and sangiovese — produced a 2016 Giome that is light-bodied but delicious, showing red fruits, hints of savory herbs, anise and a thread of minerality that becomes more pronounced as the wine opens up with a bit of aeration. Rating: 90.
J 2017 Pinot Gris, California ($18) — This is one of the most reliably delicious wines made in California. It seems to be impervious to vintage variation. It features lovely notes of melon, citrus and pear with excellent balance and impressive length. Rating: 90.
Merry Edwards 2015 Chardonnay, Olivet Lane, Russian River Valley ($66) — Merry's wines can be difficult to find, and there's a reason for that. Made in small quantities (727 cases of this chardonnay were produced), they are quickly swept up by connoisseurs as soon as they hit the market. And there's a reason for that, too: They are some of the most meticulously made and delicious wines produced in America. The Olivet Lane chardonnay has that rare characteristic that eludes most chardonnay producers, combining richness with structure and acidity that lift the fruit and keep the wine fresh on the palate rather than heavy and ponderous. The 2015 is another beauty from Merry, showing a rich, oily texture and impressive depth, with complex aromas of lemon creme, pear and Golden Delicious apple and subtle notes of oak spice. Rating: 96.
Shafer 2015 One Point Five, Stag's Leap District ($95) — Shafer's Bordeaux-style blend from this vintage is a stunning example of the excellence Shafer has produced for more than three decades. Primarily cabernet sauvignon (90 percent) with a splash of merlot and Malbec, the 2015 sings with freshness and flavor from the first sip until the last. It exhibits a seductive floral note, with mixed black fruits, aromas of savory herbs and sweet spices, and a long, impressive finish. Rating: 96.
William Hill 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($50) — The William Hill cabernet style, since its founding, has emphasized balance and elegance, two traits the 2015 Napa Valley cab has in spades. It's easy to see why this wine is often compared favorably to top-notch Bordeaux. It shows notes of blackberry and cassis, with hints of cedar and graphite along with ample but beautifully integrated tannins. Drink now or cellar for another 10 years. Rating: 94.
Paraduxx 2017 Rose, Napa Valley ($32) — As California wineries, particularly those in the Napa Valley, try to catch the dry-rose wave, it's important to note that the quality of California rose wines is rising in lockstep with the increased interest. Crisp acidity is a necessity for this genre of wine, and the Paraduxx rose — a blend of syrah and grenache — captures perfectly the essence of good dry rose. This is a floral wine with mouthwatering acidity and fruit aromas of strawberry and citrus. You will find it a race to the bottom. The bottom of the bottle, that is. Rating: 92.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.