The other night, my partner and I found ourselves in the same old dinnertime dilemma: Where should we go for dinner? The conversation went something like this.

“Where do you want to eat?”
“I don't care, where do you want to eat?”
“I don’t care. Whatever you want is fine.”
“I picked last time. You pick.”

Sound familiar? This conversation happens because we are hungry — but not for anything specific. All we know for sure is that we don’t want to cook. It's a conversation that we’ve had many times and will likely have many more times in the future. The conversation usually goes round and round until one (or both) of us is frustrated. Then we end up somewhere that doesn’t really inspire us. However, since moving to C-U, our choice of restaurants has become easier. Why? How? We let the day of the week determine where we’ll eat because different restaurants offer discounted wine specials on different days. Who has half price wine by the glass or bottle? Decision made.

I was excited by all these options and visited a few establishments to check out their offerings. Thanks to these local establishments, we can get more value from our entertainment dollars and assistance in solving the age-old problem, “Where do you want to eat?” Of course, if it is Thursday, there are no discounts to be had, so it might be best to eat at home if you want to avoid that conversation. For the other nights of the week, check out the full list of the establishments and discounts at the end of the article.

HIGHLIGHTS

Big Grove Tavern
Sunday: Half price glasses

If it’s Sunday, you can enjoy half prices glasses of wine all day at Big Grove Tavern. Keep this in mind when making plans for brunch or a relaxing dinner. In addition to the regular wine list, Big Grove currently features five specialty wines listed below. Sunday prices for a glass range from $6 to $8.50.

  • Penner-Ash, Viognier, Newburg, Oregon (White Viognier)
  • Steorra, Russian River Valley, CA (Sparkling Brute Reserve) “Pessemist,” Red Blend, Paso Robles (Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel Blend)
  • “Red Schooner” by Caymus, Malbec, Voyage 3 (Argentinian Malbec produced in Napa Valley)
  • “Taken” Red Blend, Napa Valley (Cabernet and Merlot Blen)

Of course, I tried one of the specialty offerings. I chose the Viognier for two reasons: First, the vineyard advertises the wine as having both a dense and creamy texture on the palate and a crisp finish. Second, the vineyard is in Newburg, Oregon — a town just 15 miles from my high school alma mater. (Newburg is located in the Willamette Valley, which has become an established area for wineries.)

I was curious if I’d enjoy the Viognier because the description read “creamy.” I was concerned that it would be sweet with lots of oak. I wondered, How could that ever have a ‘crisp finish?’ To my delight, Viognier lived up to its promise. The wine started creamy and slightly sweet, but finished dry. I was pleasantly surprised.

I also tried the Red Schooner, an Argentinean Malbec made in Napa Valley. This seems a puzzling description for the location of the wine, doesn’t it? Also, the label doesn’t state a vintage — simply “Voyage 3.” I found the reasons behind these idiosyncrasies interesting. Red Schooner is a “red wine of the world,” because the grapes from which it is made are grown in Argentina but Caymus vineyards in California, imports these grapes during their off season and then produces and bottles the wine. The vineyard instituted Voyage numbers to adhere to vintage laws. Vintage years indicate the grapes were grown and bottled in the region on the label.

Dublin O’Neil’s
Mondays: Half price glasses and bottles

Dublin O’Neil’s wine list consists of 12 choices, six whites and six reds. The good news is that on Mondays both the glasses and the bottles of wine are half price. I ordered the Tiziano Pinot Grigio. In my opinion, the Tiziano was slightly effervescent. I found it a fun and surprising little twist on Pinot Grigio.

Minneci’s Ristorante
Wednesday: Half price house wines

I first went to Minneci’s for Restaurant Week in January. Parking was very easy. As I walked up, the smells from the restaurant invited me through the door. Inside, I appreciated the dim lighting that was not only easy on the eyes, but it also allowed us to enjoy the glow of the table top candles. A live pianist completed the ambiance. I also appreciated the ample sized tables and booths that left plenty of room for servers to navigate and diners to feel a sense of privacy. Our server was great and the manager also strolled around checking on tables. Wednesdays are half price wine night at Minneci’s. The house wine, Sycamore Lane is their special and is available in Cabernet, Merlot, Lambrusco, Pinot Grigio, White Zinfandel and Moscato.

Quality Beer
Everyday: Truly half sized pours at half price

Sometimes one glass of wine is not enough and two is too many. Quality Bar understands this and offers a truly half sized pour for truly half price of their full pour. While other establishments will offer a smaller pour than their full glass, it is either smaller than half of the pour or will cost you more than half the price. While the Quality does not serve food, they welcome you to bring your own. Since there are a number of restaurants right next door, carrying food in is quite convenient.

Radio Maria
Tuesday: Half price glasses
Saturday: 25% off bottles

Tuesdays are great for tapas and half price glasses of wine! (For a bonus, Radio Maria offers 25% off bottles of wine on Saturdays.) I suggest trying one of their many great Spanish wines. I enjoyed the Bodega Garzon Albarino from Uruguay ($4). It is a light white wine with a balanced minerality. I definitely enjoyed it during my winter visit, but I think it will taste even better during the hot days of summer.

Radio Maria also offers the 2011 Eterna Flor, another white wine, this one from Celler Dosterras in Monstant, Spain ($6). Because I was not familiar with this varietal, I relied on the menu for a description.  As described, it was fresh and had depth. The taste was full-bodied and had a subtle smokiness in the nose, not on the palate. I am looking forward to having it again.

Sun Singer Wine and Spirits
Free tastings, Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Wine specials offered.

Free, great wine is the best of all time. Luckily, Sun Singer takes care of all our wine needs and offers a FREE wine tasting every Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Different regions, grapes or themes are featured every Saturday and wine specials are also offered. Check out the store's website to see what is coming up. 

V. Picasso
Tuesday (4 to 6 p.m.): Half price bottles
Friday (4 to 6 p.m.): Half price glasses

Friday night happy hours just got a whole lot happier because V. Picasso offers half price wines by the glass. To compliment your choice of wine during happy hour, a $12 pasta special is also offered. (Happy hour pricing is available in the bar and lounge only.) Get there early to enjoy the comfortable chairs in the window. On Tuesdays, V. Picasso also offers half price bottles from 4 to 6 p.m. These specials are the perfect excuse to check out the talents of new Executive Chef and General Manager, Leaf Defehr.

In addition to the typical bottled wines, V. Picasso also has wines available on tap. I was curious about wines on tap and asked the bartender about the benefits. I learned the tap creates a perfectly aerated glass of wine every time — no more waiting for the glass to breathe. I had to try it. The bartender asked our preference in wines and gave us samples to try until we found one that suited each of us. We ordered the Sidebar Sauvignon Blanc ($4) and the True Myth Cabernet ($5). The Sidebar had a nice, depth of texture and a very fresh finish.

I also enjoyed the True Myth Cabernet, from the Paso Robles region in California. V. Picasso serves it exclusively on tap. It had a complex blend of flavors that was not overly tannic and allowed for a smooth finish. The winery states, “this rich yet smooth Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with elegant aromas of blackberry, blueberry, pepper and cassis which lead to flavors of dark red fruits with hints of cedar spice, cocoa powder and caramelized oak.” If that isn’t enough recommendation, Wine Enthusiast magazine gave it 90 points.

PRO TIP: AVOID THE RESTAURANT MARKUP
Corkage fees

Three establishments in town have retail sections associated with their restaurants: Farmhouse Restaurant (inside Harvest Market), Art Mart, and Sun Singer Wine and Spirits. As you might guess, the variety of wine available in the retail area is much broader that what is offered on the wine list. With that in mind, you might consider purchasing a bottle and bringing it to the table. To do this, you can usually expect to pay a corkage fee for the service of opening, chilling, and serving your wine. Think of it as a convenience charge. 

The Farmhouse Restaurant inside the Harvest Market tops the list for this option because their corkage fee is FREE. Purchase the bottle and take it upstairs to the bar to have it opened and served with wine glasses. Art Mart has a $10 corkage fee and Sun Singer has a $14 corkage fee.

WEEKLY WINE SPECIALS: THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Monday

  • Dublin O’Neil’s: Half price bottles and glasses
  • 301 Mongolia: Half price bottles and glasses. Seven Saints: Half price bottles of wines
  • Sun Singer Wine and Spirits: $5 wines (4 to 6 p.m.)

Tuesday

  • Radio Maria: Half price glasses
  • Houlihan’s: Half price bottles
  • V. Picasso: Half price bottles (4 to 6 p.m.)
  • Sun Singer Wine and Spirits: $5 wines (4 to 6 p.m.)

Wednesday

  • Bunny’s Tavern: $3 glasses
  • Hamilton Walker's: $5 glasses (4 to 7 p.m.)
  • Minneci’s Ristorante: Half price house wines: Sycamore Lane in Cabernet, Merlot, Lambrusco, Pinot Grigio, White Zinfandel and Moscato.
  • Milo’s Restaurant: Half price bottles (5 to 9 p.m.)
  • Sun Singer Wine and Spirits: Sun Singer Wine and Spirits: $5 wines (4 to 6 p.m.)

Thursday

  • Sun Singer Wine and Spirits: Sun Singer Wine and Spirits: $5 wines (4 to 6 p.m.)

Friday

  • V. Picasso: Half price glasses (4 to 6 p.m.)

Saturday

  • Radio Maria: 25% of bottles
  • Bar M: Half price glasses

Sunday

  • Big Grove: Half price glasses
  • Crane Alley: Half price Reserve List bottles

Corkage Fees

  • Farmhouse Restaurant (inside Harvest Market): No corkage fee
  • Art Mart: $10 corkage fee
  • Sun Singer Wine and Spirits: $14 corkage fee

Did we miss any weekly specials? Let us know in the comments. 

All photos by Rebecca Johnson.

All information is accurate to the best of our knowledge and all specials are subject to change. Please contact individual restaurants to confirm daily specials.