When Fred Moesinger, owner of Caffé Molise, opened his BTG Wine Bar—BTG is an acronym for “by the glass”—SLC wine lovers rejoiced. There have been a handful of other efforts to launch wine bars here, but they either didn’t succeed, or don’t really have the wine selection or right vibe to be a true wine bar. BTG does. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that, by Halloween, BTG might be R.I.P. Due to the pathetic pace with which the DABC doles out its scant liquor licenses, Moesinger was only able to get a temporary permit to sell alcohol, one that will expire at the end of October. He’s hoping to obtain a club permit, but they are few and far between, with 11 applicants already on the waiting list. Meanwhile, Moesinger has been gathering signatures from the public to petition for a special wine-bar permit from the DABC. Bottom line: If you care to experience downtown SLC’s first authentic wine bar, don’t dilly-dally.
Sit down at the beautiful semi-circular bar at BTG, and you’ll notice two wine cooling/storage systems behind it. Each holds 25 bottles of wine that can be dispensed by the glass in 2- or 5-ounce pours. So, BTG offers 50 different wines by the glass—and all of those, plus some others on a reserve list, are available by the bottle as well. The number of wines listed is commendable, but what separates BTG from other wine-bar wannabes isn’t the amount of wine, but the quality offered. Where else, for example, would you come across Château Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc by the glass? Granted, it’s $23 for a 2-ounce pour, but how often to you get a chance to taste the world’s best white Châteauneuf? Ditto a gorgeous wine like Guigal Condrieu. In fact, you can enjoy a tasting flight of three of the Rhône’s most sought-after white wines—Condrieu, Le Petite Ruche and Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc—for $46. Or head to the Southern Rhône for a taste of high-end reds like Lirac, Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge for $43. There’s also a tasting of “budget” Southern Rhône reds for $19. Each month, BTG will highlight wines from a specific wine region for their tasting flights; this month it’s the Rhône River Valley.
There are also tasting flights that are permanently available, ranging from fruity, slightly sweet wines like Ste. Chappelle Riesling, Conundrum and Carol Shelton Coquille Blanc for $11.50, to “Choice Chardonnays”—$51 for Flowers, Kistler, Patz & Hall and Ramey.
Most of the 5-ounce pours at BTG are double the price of a 2-ounce pour. So, something like St. Cosme Crozes-Hermitage will run you $7 for 2 ounces, or $14 for 5 ounces. Varietals run the gamut from Italian Barolo and Oregon Pinot Noir to Minervois from the Languedoc, Bucklin Rosé from Sonoma and Riesling from Idaho. Somewhat oddly, the Southern Hemisphere isn’t represented at BTG.
Unfortunately, Utah’s best wine bar has a flaw that is too big to ignore. If you read my recent Drink article about wine serving temperatures [“The Fahrenheit Files,” Aug. 8, City Weekly], you know that many bars and restaurants serve white wines too cold and reds too warm. At BTG, for reasons I can’t fathom, the reds are served at the perfect temperature, but the whites are served at the exact same temperature: far too warm. As a wine-broker colleague of mine said, “That’s gotta change.”
BTG WINE BAR
63 W. 100 South