Somebody Pinch Me

I think my head's about to explode. Is Ferdinand's, the new wine bar that should be up and running by February, really going to have a 1,000-bottle list? It sorta, kinda looks like yeah.

Ferdinand's, a nonsmoking, full-menu wine bar that will make up the new front room of Zander Café, is going to have a 200-bottle base wine list in the bar, including some 30 wines available by the glass, some of which will be divided into a series of tasting flights starting at $9. But! If you get to the restaurant, which is next door to new wine shop Solo Vino, when the shop's open, you can also pick among the 800-plus bottles in there. And! For at least the first few months, Ferdinand's will boast the same "I'm trying to go broke" corkage policy that's been in effect at the restaurant lately: Buy a bottle at Solo Vino and bring in your same-day receipt, and the corkage fee is waived. (Eventually you'll still be able to choose among the wines at Solo Vino and bring them into Ferdinand's, but the corkage will escalate to $15.)

"I was lamenting [this free corkage policy] Saturday when we did 20 bottles from Solo Vino," says chef and owner Alexander Dixon. "But at the end of the night it was okay; we rang what we normally do. I guess customers are buying more food, or doing something else, buying another bottle of wine."

I mentioned to Dixon that my article on the topic of corkage a few weeks ago ("Tempest in a Bottle," December 5, 2001) had raised the hackles of a couple of wine-industry folks, who thought I should leave corkage as some weird "don't ask, don't tell" insider thing. "No, I'm kind of mellowing into all this," he said. "All the secrets I used to have, now I wonder: Why bother? It only sets up an us-vs.-them adversarial situation. If patrons and proprietors cooperate, everyone's going to be much happier."

To which I say: Good for all you 20 diners who took advantage of the corkage but didn't take advantage of the restaurant! As this wine and food tide keeps rising and rising, take a bow. We owe it all to you, you mannerly diners. And now we owe you a 1,000-bottle list. A thousand bottles. A thousand. Somebody pinch me. Oh wait, I forgot, you're too mannerly for that.

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