Northside SF  

October '09

Oenophilic Tendencies
Wine by the 'glass'

By Jeannine Sano

FrancesWhen ordering wine in a restaurant, you generally have only two options – by the glass or by the bottle. Wine by the glass involves less commitment than a bottle, both in terms of price and the amount of wine to be consumed. Wine by the bottle, on the other hand, not only feels more festive than a lone glass, it is frankly fresher. Preserving the freshness of wines served by the glass is a problem that restaurants and bars wrestle with constantly. At home, I solve this problem by just finishing the bottle, but it is still disappointing when the first glass fails to live up to expectations. Paul Einbund, wine director of Frances Restaurant, recently opened by acclaimed chef Melissa Perello, found a way to combine the virtues of both glass and wine through his unique “wine by the carafe” system.
Relying on his extensive experience in analyzing wine flavors, Einbund creates his own blends for the house white and house red served at Frances. Both are medium-bodied with taste profiles in the style of Rhône Valley wines. They are kept in stainless steel wine “kegs” and served in glass carafes that were specially designed for Frances under Einbund’s specifications. Each carafe has opaque etched markings along the side, giving the appearance of an Art Deco-style design, which discreetly measure out the wine in two-ounce increments. Sleek and elegant, they look nothing like those tacky tumblers sporting the “pour-up-to-here” line I have seen used for wine tastings. Patrons pay $2 for every two ounces consumed, or $18 for the carafe, and they pay only up to the amount they drink. The wines are infinitely quaffable and just as approachable as the pricing, and with Einbund at the helm, it goes without saying that both the white and red blends pair perfectly with chef Perello’s refined rustic offerings. All are generously portioned and beautifully presented at $6.50 for each of the taste plates (bouchées), with appetizers priced under $12 and entrées under $30. No one will leave Frances thirsty or hungry.
Of course this does not mean that you should overlook the wines offered by the glass and bottle on the thoughtfully compiled wine list, comprised mostly of artisanal producer labels. I was thrilled to enjoy a bottle of 2006 Domaine Jomain Puligny Montrachet with the best chickpea fritters I have ever sampled – the crisply fried exterior and creamy interior reminding me of agedashi tofu – and decadent chicken liver mousse on grilled levain, punctuated with sweet-tart pickled currants.
Try a glass, a bottle, a carafe, or any portion thereof at Frances Restaurant.
Frances Restaurant
: 3870 17th Street (between Noe and Sanchez), 415-621-3870,


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