Changing Hands in Sonoma County

There is a sad, empty feeling that we get when a favorite bar, restaurant or shop changes hands and the new ownership changes it into something else.  Our favorite local tavern was once the best place for an honest burger and a beer; now it tries to attract a hipper crowd.  There’s a line of twenty-somethings waiting to get in to order designer beers and avocado toast.  And an old-fashioned family grocery store that featured locally made products was bought by a French couple that made it an outlet for French imports.  It went out of business.  Ah, well.

The same thing happens to wineries and in-town tasting rooms.  In a previous issue, we wrote about “lost wineries” that simply closed to visitors or were sold out.  There are a number of others in Sonoma County that we remember fondly.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery.  Photo courtesy of Tripsavvy.

Chateau Souverain has had a Sonoma County presence for more than 80 years.  We weren’t around for its early days, when the legendary Mike Grgich (sadly, recently deceased) was given his first American job.  But we did visit their second home in Alexander Valley.  It was quiet, a bit out of the way and rustic in appearance.  In 2006, the location was bought by Francis Ford Coppola who turned it into a swimming pool with wine (and Coppola tributes).  Yes, Chateau Souverain can still be bought.  They in turn took over an existing winery and are now not open for visitors there.

There is a tasting room on the northeast corner of the Healdsburg Town Square that is today the tasting room of Ernest Vineyards.  It was previously the place to taste DeLoach wines, principally their Pinot Noirs as we remember it, when they were acquired by the Boisset family from France.  It was more convenient to taste there than in the western part of the Russian River valley, where they still operate.  Before that, the space was occupied by Gallo Sonoma, when the well-known mass producer made a foray into fine wines. There may have been some intermediary tenants there, but these are the ones we can recall.

Chateau St. Jean

It’s not all sad stories of demise.  Sometimes new owners inject money to improve a vineyard’s wines without changing their overall style nor the experience of visiting.  For example, Chateau St. Jean was long a favorite of ours in Sonoma Valley.  Treasury Wine Cellars took it over and then in 2021 it was sold to Foley Family Wines.  As far as we can tell, the quality of the wines has remained consistent.  More important for Power Tasting, which is about the experience of wine tasting, the architecture, gardens, palm trees and statuary have all been preserved.

Elsewhere in this issue you can read about the former Pezzi King vineyards that have been replaced by Passalacqua Winery.  In the old days, if you wanted to try a heavy, highly alcoholic Zinfandel, Pezzi King was the place for you. Thankfully, the wines are very different now. 

Special Occasion Wine Gifts

The Wall Street Journal has long had a feature they call “Open That Bottle Night”.  The premise is that many people have a few bottles that they’re saving for a special occasion.  But the occasion never seems to come and so the wines linger until they’re no longer so special.  The Journal advises that we all should open and savor one of those bottles at least once a year.

Photo courtesy of Marketview Liquor.

We do in fact have a certain number of bottles that get extra care and, yes, we do open them on some special occasions – birthdays, anniversaries – and some not so special, like that first barbecued steak of the season.  But then there are some reasons for wines that are important for someone else.  These might include welcoming a new addition to the family, reciprocating a friend’s wine generosity or celebrating some relatives’ fiftieth wedding anniversary.

We have confronted that situation over the years and have taken a few different approaches.

The easiest is simply to look through our collection and choose one of those wines to share with others.  That works well if we’ll be drinking it at our house, where we can control the handling of the wine from cellar to table.  But if we’re going to someone else’s place, all the care that has been given to a bottle over the years is likely to be for naught.  The sediment will be shaken, the temperature will be unpredictable and so the wine really shouldn’t be drunk that night.

So off to the wine shop we go.  But what to look for?  First, we really need to understand the tastes of the intended recipient, the nature of the occasion and possibly the menu.  There’s no sense bringing a California power hitter if the people we’ll share the wine with favor delicate Burgundies.  The intent is not to say, “Here’s something we like” but rather to show that we have an appreciation for what they like.

Another approach is to avoid table wines altogether.  How about a Champagne, say, or a Port?  The problem with giving Champagne these days is that there seems to be no middle ground.  Any given Champagne maison will have a base-level bottle that’s not quite special enough and a top-end premium bottling that may be beyond a reasonable price range.  For example, the wine shop we usually patronize has Pommery’s Brut Royale for $55 and their Cuvée Louise at $220.  Just how special is that special occasion?

Port has some of the same problems as a red table wine.  First, vintage Port that’s ready to drink (20 years old or more) can be very pricey.  And even more than aged red wines, Port throws a lot of sediment, making it difficult to consume at the time it is offered.  Sauternes might be a good alternative, but these dessert wines don’t have the same cachet as Port does.

In the end, the wine version of the Golden Rule (“Give what you would like to receive”) applies, combined with some serious consideration for what we know of the recipient’s tastes.  The secret is to say, “We hope you enjoy this wine.  You don’t have to serve it tonight.”  If that means we don’t get to share it with them, there will be other occasions and other wines.

Managing Wine Clubs

Over the course of years, we have been members of at least 20 wine clubs (not all at the same time).  These clubs are effectively an agreement for the members to buy a case of wine each year from each sponsoring winery.  In return for that commitment, you get a discount, normally 20%, and free tastings when you are at the winery.  In addition, in many clubs there are events that members may attend, almost all of which entail plentiful servings of their wines.  If you like the wines a particular winery makes, joining the club makes good sense.

Loading the truck.  Photo courtesy of August Hill Winery.

However, when you join you quickly learn that there are matters that require management on your part, eating up time and detracting from the pleasure of having fine wines delivered to your home.

  • You like some of the wines, but not all. Some clubs allow you a degree of specificity, such as only red wines or only certain varietals.  But many have a policy of sending you what they want to send (that you must pay for).  If customization is permitted, that means that when you receive the notification of an upcoming shipment, you need to make decisions about which ones you want and don’t want, replacing them with other wines and communicating these choices to the club’s designated contact (often nowadays the “ambassador”.  Thus are wine snobs made).
  • You won’t be home for a delivery. If you know at the time of ordering that you will be traveling, you can notify the club contact.  Most are accommodating to your schedule.  When you get a notice that a shipment is on the way, you usually get the tracking number from the shipping company so you can track your order.  But then you (or someone) must arrange to be at home to receive the wines, which usually means the whole day.
  • You want to speak with someone at the club. Some wine clubs, alas not the majority, are eager to engage in person with their members.  They’re available by phone, they reply to emails and know more about wine than order numbers and ship dates.  In all too many instances, so we’ve found, the contacts disappear between shipments.  It’s just frustrating and this type of difficulty has sometimes been the reason we’ve quit certain clubs.
  • You’ve become tired of their wines. With a few exceptions, we resign from our clubs after two or three years.  No matter how much you liked the wines at the beginning of your membership, you may not like what they send you at the rate of a case a year.  Especially if you’ve been buying age-worthy wines, they begin to accumulate in your cellar.  The expense of club membership may deter you from drinking other wines you know and like.  Yes, you can quit, but that means remembering to put it in writing and checking that your resignation didn’t get lost somewhere in the winery’s back office.

All this may make it sound like wine clubs aren’t worth the effort.  With membership in five or six at a time, we are definitely advocates of joining clubs at wineries you love.  Just remember that there’s work on your end, too.

Enoteca Nibbi

Enotecas are a distinctly Italian combination of wine bar, wine store and snack bar.  Like wine bars around the world, they’re places to relax, sip some wine, people watch and engage in a little conversation (much easier to talk with others, of course, if you speak Italian).

Some Italian enotecas are raffish and frequented primarily by locals.  Others are in areas where they are sure to have tourists dropping by as well.  Nibbi belongs in the latter category.  It’s located just off the famed Via Veneto, the hillside roadway in Rome that has long been a byword for moneyed elegance.  The area near Nibbi contains posh hotels, excellent restaurants and the American Embassy.  So while the hoi polloi might find their way to Nibbi, you’re more likely to find a more refined crowd.

It’s not that you need to be rich to go there.  There are about 20 wines to choose from, including reds and whites from around Italy, plus rosés and bubblies.  Beer and aperitifs are also served.  The pours are generous and the prices are amazingly inexpensive.  Glasses of most of their wines run between six and nine euros.  We’ve seen prices two to three times that cost back home.

The wines available by the glass are also available by the bottle, to be consumed on-site or taken home.  The wines by the glass may not always be the greatest exemplars of their vintages, but they’re not plonk either.  You can have a great tour of Italian vineyards without leaving your seat.

The food menu runs to potato chips, olives, salads, sandwiches and platters of slices salumi and cheeses.  All seemed very appetizing as they were served to other parties.  We always stopped at Nibbi for a pre-prandial glass or two before proceeding to the local restaurants, so we never tried their food.

The interior of the enoteca is quite nicely appointed, more like the American equivalent of a cocktail lounge than a bar.

But the place to sit is outside, especially in nice weather, which in Rome seems to have at least ten months a year.  There’s always a crowd gathering in front of nearly all enotecas, but Nibbi also offers a glassed “shed” where there always seems something going on.  We’ve seen large parties, with bottles and platters seeming to arrive every ten minutes.  There was a fellow on his PC writing what must have been the Great Italian Novel, made up of equal parts of inspiration, wine and cigarettes.  And there was a woman enjoying a glass of wine by herself without getting hassled (try that in New York!).

The complete name of this enoteca is Bar Enoteca Nibbi dal 1936, meaning that actual fascists and their followers must have drunk there back in the early days.  As with almost everywhere in contemporary Europe, it’s hard – at least for visitors – to conceptualize the destruction and despair of war in these lovely sites.  So, we recommend, don’t do more than give momentary thought to the past, drink up and live for today and tomorrow.  Nibbi certainly provides a pleasant venue for such enjoyment.

About Croatian Wines

We were only in Croatia for a few days, as part of a longer trip.  We did not have the time nor the means of transportation to visit wineries, which we would certainly have done if the purpose of our visit was wine tasting.  As it was, we were simply tourists in Dubrovnik, but we did want to take advantage of being there to learn as much as we could about Croatian wines.

Normally, we wouldn’t write about wine tasting in a region without actually seeing the vineyards and speaking with the people who make the wine.  But as there is hardly any wine exported from Croatia, we thought it would be a good idea to share what we learned with Power Tasting readers.

Croatian wine regions.  Map courtesy of Vineyards.com.

A few notable facts:

  • Wine has been produced in Croatia for thousands of years, going back to the time when the eastern Adriatic coast was settled by ancient Greek settlers. The mountainous geography and the Mediterranean climate has long made Croatia an ideal place to grow grapes.
  • Wine is made all over the country, from the Dalmatian coast in the south, Istria in the west, to the eastern highlands and the region along the Danube.
  • The Croatians make wine from grapes we’ve never heard of. And they taste unlike any wines we’ve ever sipped.

The dominant red wine grape is Plavac Mali, pronounced “Plavass Molly”.  It produces a dark, intense wine, which we would categorize with Merlot.  It can be a little rough around the edges, but that may have more to do with the limited production facilities in Croatia.  There are no large producers, just small vineyards making wine for their neighbors and fellow countrymen.  So what we call “rough” they might term “honest”.  And to be fair, we did taste a number of Plavac Mali that went down smoothly.

We tasted two white wines from a variety of producers.  They were called almost the same thing, but what a difference a single letter can make.  Malvazia, with a z, (also sometimes spelled Malvazija) comes from Istria, the Croatian province not very far from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, which is best known for Soave.  But the Istrian wine is much fruitier, with hints of honey and honeysuckle.  From what we saw of restaurants and wine bars in Dubrovnik, it’s the most popular white wine there.

In the south, quite near to Dubrovnik, they grow Malvasia, with an s.  This is the same grape used to make Malmsey Madeira, a luscious dessert wine.  But the Croatian version is quite different.  These white wines are austere (in the same vein as Chablis), acidic and distinctively perfumed.  They go well with shellfish, much like a Sancerre, but are not especially good wines for sipping on a pleasant sunny afternoon along the beachfront.

 

Sadly, with rare exception, you won’t find Croatian wines in the United States, which is a shame.  There are a few stores in New York that carry a few bottles, but that’s about it.  The production at individual vineyards is too small to attract many American importers and the wines are too unknown to make a large place on wine store shelves.  These are wines worth getting to know and we recommend that travelers to Croatia make time for them.

 

L’Angolo DiVino

This is a continuation of Power Tasting’s irregular series on great wine bars of the world. Previous issues have taken readers to locations in Paris, London, Copenhagen and Lisbon…and now, Rome.

If you google “Best wine bars in Rome” you’ll get various lists made by people with different tastes and experiences.  In almost all cases, you’ll find Angolo DiVino there, often at the top.  It’s a Roman attraction, albeit a bit difficult to find.  Nonetheless, Italians do find their way there and these days you’ll hear other languages spoken, not least American-accented English.

It’s located on a very narrow street called the Via dei Balestrari.  Cab drivers have never heard of the street; GPS gets lost; and in typical Roman fashion, everyone you meet on the street will give you directions, whether they know where it is or not.  The key is that it is only a block off of one of the corners of the Campo di Fiori, which every cabbie can definitely find.  Ah, but which corner?  There’s a restaurant at one end, called Carbonara.  That’s the wrong end.  But if you turn your back to the restaurant, go to the corner of the Campo to your right and walk one block, you’ll be there.

And once you get a table, you’ll be glad you did.  L’Angolo DiVino is quite small and you may have to wait a while for a table.  Of course, you can order a glass and stand outside sipping while you wait.  Once seated, you’ll be handed the wine list of the size of a short novel.  There must be a hundred wines to choose among.  However, most of them are sold by the bottle and it seems that most patrons, especially groups larger than two people, order bottles.  Buying by the bottle gives you a greater selection to choose from but less chance to experiment with the little-known wines on the by-the-glass list.

There is also food to be had from a rather short menu of bruschettas, salads, cold cuts, olives and cheeses.  It’s possible to make a meal from these dishes, but it seems that most patrons order their antipasto at l’Angolo DiVino before moving on.  We must say that the prosciuttos, salamis and cheeses complement the wines quite well.

You can get an education in Italian wine at l’Angolo DiVino, if you have the time and stamina to work your way through their list.  But you can also get an education in the easygoing way of Roman life.  This enoteca is no different from the hundreds of others scattered around Rome, with a better quality of wine and a less rambunctious clientele.  Voices are not raised at l’Angolo DiVino.  Families get together there.  Couples sit, sip and talk.  And the servers really do know what they are talking about when it comes to the wines on offer.

As said elsewhere in this issue, enotecas are beloved gathering spots in Rome.  Many are neighborhood hangouts.  L’Angolo DiVino is a destination.

And oh, about the name.  Angolo means corner, and indeed this wine bar occupies a corner.  The rest is a play on words, so it’s either the Corner of Wine or the Divine Corner.

Amateur Winemaking

We like wine; we know a bit about it; and of course we publish Power Tasting.  We’ve had some friends and acquaintances who are aware of our oenological tendencies tell us that they/their neighbor/their father-in-law makes wine at home.  And they always tell us it’s as good as the best from Napa/France/Italy.  There’s no way to put them off by saying, “I’m sure it’s quite good”.  They insist on giving us a bottle to hear our opinion.

Photo courtesy of the San Diego Amateur Winemaking Society.

We suspect they never tasted Petrus and certainly not their home-made wine next to a glass of it.  So we sip what they give us, hoping that it isn’t vinegar, swirl it in our mouths a while and then, trying hard to look earnest, tell them that while theirs is interesting, we prefer to stick with the wines we know.  Notice the absence of any actual opinion.

This experience comes to mind in our wine tasting travels because quite a few wineries offer the experience of making your own wine.  We are aware of several that have similar programs, including Conn Creek and the Wine Foundry in Napa and several places in Texas called Water2Wine. We have tried our hands at blending at Joseph Phelps in Napa Valley, trying to replicate Insignia, their flagship wine. We have concluded that a) we are not very capable winemakers and b) professional winemakers do an awfully good job.

Neither of those points should have come as surprises.  We have no training, no experience and, though we hate to admit it, probably no aptitude for winemaking.  We don’t expect rank amateurs to do our jobs, so why should we be expected to become skilled professionals just because a fine winery has given us some fermented juice to play with.

We have been fortunate enough to spend some time with several real winemakers from wineries we admire and we have great respect for them.  It’s not just that they have skill at blending varietals.  For one thing, they have well-cultivated tastes for wine.  Sure, we do too, but we only taste the finished products.  They can sip a little of this, a bit more of that and figure out what combination will be consistent with the production of years past and will taste good years in the future.

We’re happy to leave our expertise at opening bottles, pouring wine into glasses and having enough insight into wine to distinguish well-made ones from plonk.  At best, we know the difference between good wine and really good wine.  Which brings us back to the wines made at home.  There are home cooks who can make a great, restaurant-quality meal but not hundreds of meals of exactly the same quality every night for years.  The same applies to amateur winemakers.  We’re certain that they enjoy what they’ve made, if only because they get to drink the results of their own handiwork.  We’ll go further and recognize that if they like their own wine, that’s their own business.  But they cannot make great wine, just wine they like.

Having had the chance to make our own wine, we’ve decided to let the professionals do their thing and we’ll do ours: drink it and enjoy it.

The Evolution of Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

We’ve been visiting Napa Valley for the purpose of wine tasting for a long time, since 1977 to be exact.  Needless to say, the valley has changed greatly over nearly a half century.  In some ways, the wine has stayed the same, but in others it has developed quite a bit.  And thus, the way that visitors engage in wine tasting has evolved tremendously.

St. Helena in the 1950s.  Photo courtesy of Cinema Treasures

 

Napa Valley was primarily agricultural, and of course it still is.  But towns like Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga are unrecognizable from what they once were.  For example, we can remember when the French Laundry in Yountville used to source its produce and poultry from farms just across Washington Street.  Calistoga was known for mud baths, not wine.  St. Helena was a village for locals and Napa was nowhereseville.  What changed them?  Tourism, of course.  And what brought the tourists?  Wine.

In the earlier times, growers and wine makers would offer tastes of their wines for free as a form of advertising, in hopes that visitors would buy some.  Wine tasting was an afterthought in the commercial scheme of things, conducted in a barn or a barrel room.  The visitors were attracted more by curiosity (“Do they really make wine up there?”) than advanced oenological expertise.  And while there were always exceptions, the wines were predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

St. Helena today.  Photo courtesy of Visit Napa Valley.

By the 1990’s, tourism was well established.  There were plenty of excellent restaurants to feed the visitors (quite well), though hotels there were primarily chains and bed-and-breakfasts.  Wineries began charging for their tastings, enough at first to cover their tasting costs.  These had begun to climb as they had to improve facilities, hire more staff and improve the glassware.  And the varietals had expanded.  Everyone seemed to have a Pinot Noir from Carneros and Sauvignon Blanc from all over the valley.  And the visitors were interested in sipping some of all the wines.  The tastings went from a little of one or two wines to flights of four or more.

By the millennium, wine tasting had become a profit maker unto itself.  Napa palaces were erected from one end of the valley to the other.  And the tasting fees had risen to the point that they were a consideration – along with alcoholic sanity, of course – as to how many wineries could be visited.  Many tasting rooms offered two lists, with the premier wines available at a higher price.  Increasingly, the visitors demonstrated significant knowledge and taste buds.

Today, especially with the aftereffects of the pandemic, much of the tourism in Napa Valley is directed to resorts, with wine tasting almost a sideline.  Of course, Napa Valley wines had long achieved eminence in the world and preeminence in California and the US generally.  But the cost of tasting in Napa Valley had made other winemaking areas, such as Sonoma County, Santa Barbara and the Central Coast attractive alternatives.  The wines of Napa Valley are still superb, but the tasting fees at the finest wineries are a deterrent for some potential visitors.

Napa Valley will long produce great wines and the scenery will forever be beautiful, but the nature of wine tasting there may never be the same.

Vineyard Tastings

The model for most of our wine tasting experiences over the years was having a drink in a bar.  We would stand up and taste selected wines.  More recently, especially in Napa Valley, the model has been restaurant style.  We sit at a table and servers bring us wines to try.

There’s another model that we have encountered more rarely but have enjoyed quite a lot: a wine tasting in the very vineyards where the wine comes from.  This way of wine tasting is often, but not always, combined with a tour of the winemaking facilities.  There is quite a lot of variety, in fact.

The vines of Chimney Rock

For one thing, many wineries are situated in the middle of or adjoining their vineyards.  There is nothing to stop anyone from picking up their glass and wandering out among the vines.  This is especially fun during the days just before the harvest, when the tasting can be paired with a few stolen grapes.  Once, on a slow day at Chimney Rock in Napa, our server went with us and showed us around the vines.  (We understand that this winery now offers a vineyard tour with a tasting, though we have never taken it.)

Chappellet is a winery that incorporates a brief walk through the vines as a part of its regular tastings.  From experience, we can say that this is a more pleasant experience from March through November.  It gets cold up on Pritchard Hill in the winter.

Most American vineyards are rather protective of their properties, but in many places in Europe, it’s easy to walk through vineyards on your own.  So we have sometimes made ourselves a picnic, bought a bottle of the local wine and sipped while eating and walking.  Those Burgundy wines aren’t bad, y’know, and actually being there added to their luster.

Some wineries, including the recently reviewed Black Stallion in Napa Valley and Dry Creek Vineyard in Sonoma County have model vineyards so that visitors can get a sense of what the vines and, in season, the grapes actually look like.  These are not the ones that wind up in your glass, but learning to recognize the vines, leaves and grapes is valuable anyway.

Winemaker Jon Priest explains Etude’s way of making Pinot Noir, at their flagship Heirloom vineyard in the Grace Benoist Ranch.

We recently had a unique vineyard tasting experience.  Etude hosted a members-only tasting in its Pinot Noir vineyards in Carneros.  Interestingly, although the Etude winery is in Napa County, their premier vineyards in the Grace Benoist Ranch are in Sonoma County.  We were bussed from the winery to the vineyards and had a barbecue lunch under some shady trees with about 35 fellow members.  The vineyards for the wines we were served were right nearby!  There is a thrill for wine lovers to marry the sights, smells and tastes of the wines we enjoy with the sights and smells of the vineyard.  Added to the pleasure, we were joined by the winemaker, Jon Priest, who explained what we were looking at in terms that satisfied both the wonkiest of wine lovers as well as those who cared far more about what is in the bottle than how it got there.

As noted, there are a lot of ways to combine wine tasting and vineyards.  We heartily recommend taking one.

Seated Tastings – Plusses and Minuses

In the not very distant past, a typical wine tasting would involve entering a tasting room, finding a space at the bar, getting the server’s attention and sampling a few wines as slowly or as quickly as one pleased.  The server would explain what each wine was, very briefly on busy days, with more detail and conversation on slower ones.  The trend in wineries these days, particularly but not exclusively in Napa Valley, is to take a seat at a table (by appointment, if you please) and be served a selection of wines by someone who acts more like a waiter than a bartender.

Photo courtesy of Medlock Ames.

In some ways, we like this experience, but in others we miss the way things used to be.

Beginning with the upside, a seated tasting more closely matches the way you would enjoy these wines in your own home.  You might stand up and sip some Chardonnay at a party or a barbecue, but the wine would not be the center of attention, nor would the wines in question be of the quality you expect at a wine tasting.  Especially if the server offers you something to eat, even a few crackers, you get a better sense of how you would enjoy each wine were you to purchase some.

Almost without exception, the interaction with the servers is cordial and as informative as the server’s knowledge can make it.  That’s because they aren’t being pulled from one visitor to the other, trying to serve as many people in as short a time as possible.  In the worst days of the pandemic, wineries were forced to seat their customers at widely spaced tables.  Finding employees was more difficult as well.  Both these trends are still apparent now that Covid has ebbed.  As a result, with seated tastings, servers have more time, less pressure and can give their guests more attention.

It must be said that the facilities, in or out of doors, are more attractive.  Visitors can look around rather than stand at the bar facing the scurrying servers.

However, there are some negatives.  At a bar, if you were served a wine you don’t especially care for, you could pour it out at strategically placed buckets and move on to the next wine.  At a table, you may have to ask for a bucket and then wait your turn for the next wine to be served.  (A few wineries, such as Duckhorn and Black Stallion, both in Napa Valley, serve the entire flight at one time, so visitors can drink at their own pace.)

Yes, you have more of an opportunity to speak with the servers.  What you want from them is their knowledge of wine in general and that winery’s products in particular.  But you didn’t come there to hear their life stories, which teams they root for and where their kids are going to school.  (Honest, these have happened to us.)  One of the big plusses of seated tastings is having the chances to sip at your leisure.  Having some stranger dominate your time eliminates that advantage.

Finally, seated tastings take more time, an hour at a minimum but often more.  This significantly reduces the number of wineries anyone can visit in a day.  That’s a plus for sobriety, but for those who sip and pour, as we do, it’s not so positive.  And we find that in sitting and waiting for our servers, we drink more of what’s in front of us than we would have otherwise.