The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 30 of 119

{ }  31 waning weeks of 2013. Holiday revelers, splurging on high-end dining, not only could sample three- or six-ounce pours of rare wines, they obtained gift ideas. "I started the Cellar Glass Pour program with the Coravin in December last year," Bills says. "There are a dozen wines on that list, and people have just been thrilled! And since it was December, you could hear people say: 'Hey, you should get this as a gift for your brother, since he loves rare wines.' The Coravin probably had a sales boost at retail because people came here, saw it in action and realized how they could use it in their cel- lars at home." Once he had the Coravin at the ready, the first bottling that Bills wanted to break into was the 1988 Château d'Yquem Sauternes. As a white wine offered only by the bottle, it was predictably not moving at a Chicago steakhouse. But Bills knew exactly what to pair with it, and the Coravin "opened" the possibilities. "I knew that wine was going to be the one I'd try first, and that it would pair with our foie gras," he says. "Once we started doing that, we went through the bottle within a week." Now, Bills has carved out a real niche in his wine program at Primehouse, cordoning off special areas in his already pres- tigious wine cellar. When he first purchased the Coravin, he also obtained the Vintage Cork Needle, which is narrower and protects the integrity of delicate corks often found on older vintages. This gives Bills peace of mind when pouring quite the legion of legendary reds: a 1999 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a 1975 Pauillac or a 1966 Château Margaux. "The Coravin really moves people to branch out," Bills adds. "Sometimes, a guest will think about starting with a six-ounce glass of wine on the Cellar Glass Pour list, but then ask to talk to the sommelier. I'll then say, 'Maybe try a three-ounce pour of this, and another three-ounce pour of another. Or, try a trio of three-ounce pours to make a small flight.' We can also discuss whether their palate is more inclined to Old World wines or fruit-forward wine, and then move on to food pairings. The Coravin provides customers flexibility to experiment." The decision to bring the Coravin tableside for a demonstra- tion depends on the situation, of course. Those at business meals might find the presentation distracting. But for a table for two on a date, it's an opportunity. "When a couple is out to have fun, it adds to the ambience and the guest experience," Bills explains. "Sometimes, a table nearby sees the Coravin and switches from their original bever- age plans to the Cellar Glass Pour list." Bills hopes to have the Cellar Glass Pour program expanded to 16 or even 20 wines in time for the holiday season. He'd like to add an older vintage white Burgundy or a Chablis to pair with first courses and salads, and maybe even a vintage Port. But, he will also branch into the bottle-only list if a guest is adamant. "If someone wants a glass of Chateau Montelena Estate— absolutely, I will pour that. I can easily just add that particular bottle to the Cellar Glass Pours. And someone might want a whole bottle of what's already on the program. We've done that a few times. It's all about the guests." "The Coravin provides customers flexibility to experiment." The Coravin has persuaded many patrons of Primehouse Chicago to order several different wines throughout a meal, creating small flights or themes based on Old World or California wines.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The SOMM Journal - December 2014/January 2015