Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kona Grill and BYOW

My parents were in town last weekend. We made it out for dinner at the Kona Grill in Lincolnshire. This was the first time I've been to a Kona grill so I didn't know what to expect. I have to say though, that I was pleasantly surprised.

I ordered the Macadamia Nut Chicken, and it was absolutely fantastic. Perfectly cooked, but more importantly perfectly seasoned and with a sauce that really made me take note.

What was funny though was that for dinner we brought a bottle of Byron Pinot Noir. Which was a fine bottle I will get to in a minute. We put the bottle on the table and when the server came by asked if it could be opened. She was a young server, and the place is fairly new, but even with that I was entertained by the fact that she had no idea this could be done. She didn't say anything, but the look on her face betrayed her. She whisked away and a few minutes later she returned with some glasses and a comment. "The manager says corkage will be $20, and I have to make sure the wine isn't on our list. I didn't even know you could do this". We agreed and enjoyed our wine with dinner.

I think it is interesting. Wine is so popular when eating out, but people ignore the high markup of wine on the list. Now $20 is a pretty high corkage and makes this equation a little tough, but look at this real example. The most expensive bottle of wine on the list at Kona was a La Crema Pinot Noir. It retails for $17 and was on the list for $43. Our bottle of Byron was $22. We paid the same amount for a better bottle. Now imagine if we had purchased a $60 bottle at the store and brought it with us. That bottle would have cost us $150 at the restaurant, but runs us a mere $80. And it is a common occurrance to spend $80 on a bottle of mediocre wine at a restaurant, but rare to spend $60 on a dud at a liquor store. All in all its a much better deal and you get to drink something without all the pressure of the restaurant's wine list.

On to the bottle of Byron. My dad picked out the bottle largely on a whim. Byron's 2007 Pinot is a Santa Maria pinot. It had all the characteristics of what I think of as typical california pinot. Inviting fruity and mildly complex. For $22 I can't complain. Well actually if you know me, you know I could, but I won't. It was all in all a very good wine for the price and one I can easily recommend.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bottle Shock

I'm sure most readers will never have heard of the movie Bottle Shock. It was a little known title released sometime last year. The film stars Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman, and Chris Pine. Its the story of Chateau Montelena, who longtime readers will know is one of my favorite wines.

I finally had the opportunity to see the movie a couple weeks ago. I can't say I was disappointed because my expectations were appropriately low, but it wasn't an exceptionally good movie. The cinematography was everything you would expect of a movie filmed in Napa. It featured the stunning landscape that would be hard to miss if you so much as took a flip mini to make a clip for you tube. The acting was passable, Bill Pullman put in a convincing performance as did Alan Rickman. Where the film fails is that it doesn't rise above the wine story to be more about life.

The highlight of the movie is probably the fact that it centers on one of the greatest wineries in Napa. It stirred me to go out and try to find a bottle of Montelena Chardonnay to share with my parents who were in town. Shockingly we couldn't find one at Binny's or Sams's.

If you are a big wine fan I suggest checking the movie out, but if you are looking for a good movie that stands on its own look elsewhere.