We were curious, as probably some of you were, how it was all going to work at St. Vincent (24th and Valencia) when it came to opening all those bottles for people and only pouring out half. The innovative beverage program at the new wine tavern from former Quince sommelier David Lynch is fun, and as he told us previously it’s meant give people experiences of new wines that they might be reluctant to try if they had to pay for pricey full bottles — a half-bottle of an $80 wine, for instance, with approximately four half-glasses for $40, doesn’t feel so bad. But what happens with all those leftover half-empty bottles at the end of the night, and how many have they had to toss out during their first week in business?
As we found on Friday night during a meal with a few friends, the servers do a great and gentle job of steering you toward bottles that are already open, especially after you’ve ordered a couple of half-bottles already and you’re feeling particularly open to suggestions.
“Ultimately, it’s going to cost me a few points in wine cost, because people don’t believe that most wines — good wines, anyway — are better on day two,” Lynch tells us, saying that in addition to writing what’s open on the chalk board in the dining room, servers will suggest what’s open because he believes that every wine on the list is good. And yes, they will be using argon dispensers to preserve red bottles for a second day’s service — which most restaurants regularly do for their by-the-glass lists — but never a third. “The fact of the matter is that most wine is better on day two,” Lynch says. “On day three I’ll give it to the kitchen and eat the cost. Which is why I’m trying to create a culture where people ‘shop’ the open half bottles.”
Lynch is highlighting a lot of small producers and really interesting wines from a number of countries, and it’s not like most lists you’re going to see around town. So, basically, you gotta trust him.
St. Vincent - 1270 Valencia Street at 24th - 415-285-1200 - Open for dinner, Monday through Saturday.