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Glad you're calling them like you see 'em. I've always preferred the Bodegas Dios Baco Oloroso over the Lustau, even though it's sweeter--yummy w almonds/dried fruit/cheeses. All of those things, of course, not on the furhman diet!


Twice the retail price? Alice, you're all so lucky over there. In Belgium twice the retail is a no brainer, it's f***ing cheap. Here thrice or more the retail price is absolutely normal.
I'm happy there are at least some sommeliers who do love their customers and at last there are some resto's where you can have a BYO, but you have to be strong hearted to pay the often atrocious corkage ... .

Scott Reiner

trois toits is a rosenthal muscadet


Is the Masciarelli as well? ; )

So I realized it was a NR when I got home. At $32, it might have been the one to get, though as I didn't know the producer, the 2009 kind of turned me off to it. I wanted some good acidity.

Thomas Glasgow

4x retail is typical in Philadelphia. Don't know about the Modern, had a bad experience there when I reserved for 6 but only 5 of us showed. The reservation had been secured via cc for $25 a head. They seated us at the 6 top and then asked us to move to a 4 top. I told them they could keep $25 for the no show, this on a slow friday night (rosh hashanah). They moved us back to the 6 top and never charged the $25.


Ooph. 4x is not typical up here. Still, they have to sit you at a six-top if you're 5. More importantly, what did you do for wine?

Thomas Glasgow

It was a few years ago and don't recall other than something Austrian.

Scott Tyree

Ms. Feiring, A mutual acquaintance suggested I read this blog post if I wanted to see a prime example of mean-spirited character assassination. In your opinion, whom does it benefit by openly trashing a wine director? What satisfaction do you get by describing an industry colleague's wine choices as "deplorable", the list "fun to trash", and the wine director herself as someone who despises the customer. Look, all of us in the industry critique other wine lists, programs, service styles, markups, etc. But to do so in such a harshly personal way is tasteless, rude and unnecessary. The juvenile conversation with Ms. Bowman is especially cringe-worthy. It reads like dialogue lifted from the script of "Mean Girls." Are you not embarrassed by your comments? But, of course, it's your blog and your free to say whatever you please, however tacky it may be.

Regarding markups, I'm certain you're aware of the pressures wine directors are under to achieve certain cost percentages. This is especially true of restaurant corporations with multiple establishments like the Danny Meyer group and its ilk. High markups in NYC are hardly rare. Take a stroll up to the temples of gastronomy at Columbus Circle the next time you need a "cartoon-eyes-bugging-out experience."

Having read some of your other thoughtful and interesting blog posts, I'm going to assume that this post is just an aberration and that future critiques will be fare and less intentionally nasty.


Hello Scott, and thanks so much for taking the time to write. I have removed the Facebook conversation because now that you bring it up, perhaps it was unkind, it was sharing a behind the back moment and at the time I posted, I lost my sense. I was certainly having fun at someone else's expense. So I really thank you for pointing that out.

I took out the cartoon as well, which you did misinterpret, as the symbolism was far deeper and touched symbolically on what I thought was driving the list.

As far as my discussing the list? I've had this blog since 2004 and from time to time I get great joy in writing about particularly great lists and conversely when I feel I, as a diner, have had an unjust wine experience, I write that too. A list has to be pretty extreme for me to dissect it, as I have done here. This is actually not about the price, but the price paired with the kinds of selections.

Once again, thank you for writing. Truly appreciate it.--Alice

Charles Blackstone

Thanks for deleting the comment thread. I've been fortunate to have dined in a number of restaurants over the years at which Belinda Chang has been wine director, and I've always found her lists--and the selections they contain to which she, personally, or her well-trained staff has pointed me--to have contained some of the most exciting, unusual, and perfectly-chosen wines I've ever had, many of which I can recall quite vividly to this day. She selects not for the novice and not for the Spectator, not for the penurious and not for the princely, but somehow manages to be everyone's sommelier, and that's only part of her genius. She's also an innovator, and a number of approaches she pioneered can still be seen on by-the-glass lists here in Chicago (and in other cities' wine bars that have poached them since). I'm disappointed you failed to contextualize your grievances with any specifics about Belinda's accomplishments, which makes for a rather distorted picture. Left out of this breezy, bloggy overview is that the Modern's Belinda Chang has a wine philosophy and approach unlike any other practicing today. Her techniques are refreshing, engaging, evincing a passion for her craft, dedication to her customers, and lifelong commitment to her field--above all, vastly successful. I can't say that I can describe many other restaurants' wine lists or their wine directors quite the same way. But don't take it from me, merely an interested consumer: I think Belinda's recent Beard nomination aptly and elegantly sums up her career contributions to the industry, and to the lives of her vast array of loyal dining patrons across the country, if not, by now, the world: outstanding wine service.


Hello Charles,

Thanks for your note.
Why don't you just take a look at the list for yourself and perhaps you can explain it to me. It is on their site
Perhaps I am missing something.

Thomas Glasgow

Boys let Belinda Chang defend herself.

Blackstone makes assertions he can scarely have direct knowledge of unless he's a shill. His assertion that "She selects not for the novice and not for the Spectator, not for the penurious and not for the princely, but somehow manages to be everyone's sommelier, and that's only part of her genius" is ridiculous in the extreme. The subject matter in wine in restaurants.

Joe Dressner

What's with all the + signs between the paragraphs?

Frankly, I don't understand this article. You don't like the wine list. The world is filled with wine lists I despise. Why make such a big deal about it?

These somms, as they call themselves, are living for and serving another world which wants something else from wine than what I want. It is bullyish to attack them for doing what they want to do in the first place.

Just avoid these places, go downtown or take a cab to Brooklyn.



As always thanks so much for writing in. The ++ are because I was having trouble formatting the blog. And secondly, this is more than just not liking the wine list. It is about educating the diner, just the way a consumer reports would send out warning. This isn't about my taste, this is about 'hidden gems,' that are supermarket brands. Someone who doesn't spend as much time thinking about wine as you or I do, might believe that Bouchard or Albrecht are not exactly hidden gems but more supermarket options.


I am a sommelier and Wine Director in Atlanta and I think it is fair to judge a wine list, a wine program, and a person based on a publication. The truth is that a wine list IS a publication that a Sommelier subjects to analysis every time, which is generally quite frequently, it is re-printed. The Modern and Belinda Chang should be leading the country in ingenuity, originality and honesty in a wine program. If the restaurant, the group or the Sommelier are not performing to consumer standards, then they should be called out.

Thank you for not playing with kid gloves...we can all stand to improve through critical analysis.


This is very kind of you.

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I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.

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