A lot has been written, said and argued regarding an appropriate size for the standard pour of a glass of wine. Technicians of wine enjoyment typically set the amount based on the size and shape of the glass so when liquid hits crystal, the wine expresses itself in its finest color, aroma and taste. Managers of bars and restaurants, looking to maximize return on investment in their wine cellars, instruct staff to stick to the standard pour of 5 or 6 ounces, hoping they will pour a little light and squeeze six glasses from a standard bottle. Most of us, whether we’ve attended WSET training or simply had a rich uncle who took us under his wing to share secrets from the world of wine sophistication, just pour to the level of the widest part of the bowl. My preference is to go beyond any of these limitations.
Let’s peek at a little wine math. A standard wine bottle holds approximately 750ml, or 25.4 ounces. Pour six glasses from that bottle and the unfortunate guests shelling out $15 per glass will be served 4.2 ounces. That’s a little below the 5 or 6 ounce industry standard, but it keeps the pub owner operating in the black. How about a pour that yields four glasses per bottle, around 6.3 ounces? That amount clearly pushes the envelope on standard pours and might force the innkeeper to kick up the single serving price to $16 or $17 per glass. Raising the price for a minimal increase in serving size interferes with my “serving-to-tip ratio,” a loose calculation that in layman’s terms results in me giving the server a bigger tip when the wine pour is generous.
Let’s take our wine calculations to a less profit-driven venue – home. We’ve already purchased that bottle of liquid art and now it’s time to enjoy it. Is our primary motivation to maximize the wine’s potential in terms of aroma and taste? We might start by decanting the wine well ahead of sipping time and making sure the crystal receptacle (glass) is well-cleansed and free of detergent residue. We’ll check the temperature on our decanter to make sure the wine is served within proper guidelines for its type. When all environmental variables are within specs, we’ll pour. Will we let loose from the mouth of the decanter the standard pour, or do we want more? If we’re going to take our time to look, swirl, smell and sip, shouldn’t we charge our glasses with a ration that brings out the best in the wine? Well, sure, if all we care about is the wine.
If you’re like me, enjoying wine isn’t all about the wine. There are people involved, too. Some call it the human factor. We’ve paid (probably overpaid) for the wine, let it breathe, poured the proper amount – served it right in every way. It’s our turn now. We want to enjoy it, each in our own way, unshackled by convention and free to explore each taste as we integrate the experience into whatever we happen to be doing at the time. We might be eating, watching baseball on TV, conversing with a spouse or other target of desire, watching children or grandchildren play – anything except operating heavy machinery. We don’t want to be jumping up every few minutes to re-fill our wine glasses. After we pour that first glass and expertly savor each glorious characteristic, it’s time to get on with sipping in the moment. We might want to pour ourselves just a drop, maybe a smidgen. Perhaps we’ve put away the car keys for the night and it’s time for a generous splash or drizzle. What is the standard pour at this point? Whatever we want.
My portion preference equates to about four glasses of wine per bottle, hence #PourFour. I know people who try to get six or eight glasses out of a bottle – I try to avoid drinking wine with those people. Cheers.