Charlotte hotels offer new ways to buy, enjoy wine

Drinking wine is a popular pastime in the United States—in fact, Americans drank the equivalent of nearly 3 gallons per man, woman and child in the country during 2015. The actual amount consumed? 913 million gallons.

Hotels have been capitalizing on the popularity of wine (and other alcoholic beverages) for pretty much always, but they are getting more creative with their offerings of late.

For instance, the Charlotte (N.C.) Marriott City Center is now offering wine-loving travelers an innovative way to buy and enjoy wine with the launch of the wine retail outlet The Bottle Shop.

The Bottle Shop is a retail shop inside the newly renovated hotel where hotel guests and locals can drop in to sample wines at the free nightly tastings and then purchase a bottle to enjoy anywhere in the hotel’s public spaces (including at the adjacent Stoke restaurant and Coco & The Director coffeehouse — with no corkage fee), take home or even have a case shipped. Hotel guests can enjoy wines from The Bottle Shop in their rooms as well.

The shop stocks 120 labels from around the globe with something for everyone, ranging from crowd pleasers to hard-to-find gems. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The free wine tastings, which are held daily from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., are designed for exploration and pleasure. Each tasting features two wines with a common theme like California vs. Oregon Pinot Noir, American sparklers, North Carolina wines, White vs. Red Blends, and Chardonnays from different regions, accompanied by cheese and charcuterie from Stoke, which was just named one of best new restaurants of 2016 by USA Today and Charlotte magazine.

The Marriott isn’t the only Charlotte hotel pushing the envelope in regards to wine.

The Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte allows hotel guests and area residents to purchase wines for affordable enjoyment directly at the hotel or at another location.

The Ritz-Carlton guests can take Hidden Wine purchases to their guestrooms, to another destination, or to the hotel Lobby Lounge, where the wine can be professionally served. Lobby Lounge service of wines purchased at Hidden Wine is also available to local residents.

Hidden Wine offers a large selection of European and American wines, as well as sparkling wines and Champagnes. A further offering will focus on organic, biodynamic and small-batch labels, while a select retail offering will also present wines available only at this boutique prior to broader release in the region. None of the wines sold by Hidden Wine will be available for purchase at other dining outlets at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte.

As an added service, and especially for those purchasers wishing to dine outside the hotel, Hidden Wine provides an in-store listing of local restaurants that permit guests to bring in their own wine. The list will include related corkage fees associated with each dining establishment.

While wine is the focus at these hotels, beer lovers might be receiving some love of their own, at least in Michigan. According to MLive, those who don't want to wait for a waiter could soon pull their own drafts out of tabletop dispensing machines, thanks to a new rule from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

Under the new rule, a bar or restaurant with a license to sell alcohol on its premises could have tabletop dispensing machines available to customers. The customer would have to order the beverage from a worker so that person could verify they were of legal drinking age. But then they could dispense the drink at their leisure from a tabletop machine. These machines would also be allowable in hotel rooms.

The only business to have publicly expressed interest was MGM Grand, according to MLive. In 2012, the company asked the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for permission to have tabletop dispensers at its restaurant, "TAP." The commission wouldn't allow the idea to go forward at that time.