New Wrinkle in Wine-Tasting

The opening of a new Four Seasons Hotel is always a time of great excitement for we of the travel-writing persuasion, particularly when it's in our own backyard. I have nothing but good things to say about stays at the Four Seasons properties I've visited in Hawaii, London and Asia. To that end, I hauled myself up to Seattle recently to check out the new Four Seasons Seattle, which is located just a block south of the famous Pike Place Market, with sweeping views of the Elliott Bay waterfront.

The hotel was elegant and friendly and expensive, as most Four Seasons are, but I was particularly taken by a new wine-tasting program offered in ART, the fine-dining restaurant overseen by Seattle veteran chef Kerry Sear. Besides offering terrific versions of hard-to-find seafood like Alaskan Black Cod and Italian Branzino, Sear has introduced something I've never seen at wine bars or restaurants during my travels. For a guarantee of purchasing at least two glasses of wine, the restaurant will open any bottle on its voluminous wine list, and serve it to you on a per-glass basis. They charge proportionately for the bottle. This means that you can wrap your lips around an incredible DeLille Cellars D2 wine – from a top western Washington producer whose bottles sell in the $100 range – for the bargain price of $25/glass. Which I happily did, and enjoyed every drop of the lush, red blend. The same goes for Leonetti Cellars' perennially sold out reds from Walla Walla, a top Oregon Pinot Noir, or a Super Tuscan varietal from Italy.

Twenty-five smackers might seem outrageous to pay for a glass of wine, but it provides those of us on a budget (or a limited corporate expense account) to sample wines that we otherwise might never have a chance to try. And I'd rather pay that much for a really good glass of wine than a whole bottle of something harsh and acidic. For me, it spoke of the overall richness of staying at a place like the Four Seasons. Maybe someday they'll apply the same concept to a $500/night room (sleep there two hours, pay a quarter of the tab…it needs some work, I know).