The Surreptitious Pour: Sneaking Top Shelf Wine in the Economic Downturn

Vinted on January 6, 2009 binned in wine buying, wine polls

A recent article by Catherine Rampell of the New York Times really caught my attention. In it, Catherine explores the recent wine buying trend in “trading down” – buying less expensive wines rather than splurging on the really pricey stuff (read the full article).

One of the interesting things she found is that wine retailers are almost making up for the reduction in premium wine purchases with an increased sales volume for the cheaper stuff.

But that’s not what I wanted to discuss here.

What I found most interesting is how some people are drinking the decreased volume of really good stuff that they are buying. From the article:

“The people who have been splurging have been doing it surreptitiously,” said Jesse Salazar, the wine director at Union Square Wines in Manhattan. “There’s the secret pour and the pour for the guests at large,” he said. “I was at a Christmas party recently where there was a substantial amount of wine being purchased. But there was a party case, and then there was the host case back in the kitchen. The host was drinking Bordeaux; the guests were drinking Chianti.”

The Surreptitious Pour.

I love it!

What I’m curious about is if YOU would do this – would you hide the really good stuff at a party for you and a select few friends?

Because, I sure know that I’d be tempted to do that…

(images: – modified)





  • Daily Spud

    Oh I have to admit I’d be tempted – how bad is that? :)

  • Taster B

    I would totally do that since most of my wine appreciating friends aren’t local, and the locals I would invite say they can’t taste the difference anyway.

  • Mark Koppen

    On the flip side of this, as a guest I often attend casual BYO type parties, and I always make sure to bring something that I myself would want to drink – and be sure to pour myself a big glass to start (because you never know what wines are going to be left to drink later on…).
    And yet – I would say that if I found out my host were keeping the best stuff in the back, I would be TOTALLY offended!

  • Ron McFarland

    I enjoyed that part of the article too when I read it the other day.

    To me it is a good indicator that people will continue to drink what they like, yet be a little more cautious when serving wine for larger groups.

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    I guess the question now is, how do we make sure we get on the good side of the host/hostess so we make sure we get the good stuff?

  • Anonymous

    There is a great and actually true story about Nixon. That when he had friends for dinner, the butler would always wrap a side towel around the bottle…the guests received wine of far lesser quality than the Bordeaux that was served to him. So what do we get from this? That you can always fool some of the people…

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    I *love* that Nixon story…

  • The Beer Wench

    Hate to admit it, but that's how I am with my beer. Most people that come over (from work or my roommate's friends etc…) do not fully appreciate the beauty of craft beer. They actually prefer drinking the cheap & crappy corporate beers. So while they drink Budcrap I drink from my awesome collection. Hey, at least I feed them good stuff!


  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    Hey Wenchie – I think the situation is even worse for beer. Not to mention that the craft brews will get the Bud drinkers way blitzed, way fast!

  • Joie de vivre

    Someone actually did that? I’d drink the Chianti too.

  • Steve Heimoff

    I think most of us tend to categorize our friends vis a vis our wines, so that we save the best for people who will appreciate it. That’s just human nature. By the way, Nixon’s wine was Margaux… 1964, as I recall.

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    Thanks, Steve – at least his taste in wine was decent…

  • Morton Leslie

    It’s funny I read it as well, and I had two reactions. One, that I can’t imagine in any circumstance doing anything so boorish. Two, I would not immediately assume Bordeaux to be superior to Chianti.

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    Hey Morton – I had a similar reaction to the Bord’x / Chianti line. My though was “Well, it totally depends on the Chiani…

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