The Platonic ideal of the wine bar is a glorious place: an endless array of interesting and unique bottlings, served by knowledgeable but gracious servers and sommeliers, where the prices are always fair and the charcuterie board always has one last slice of cured meat on it.

Unfortunately, reality is far less fulfilling: The wine bars we encounter every day might offer the same generic wines as the chain restaurant around the corner, or be staffed exclusively by the worst kinds of snobs, or might just be a restaurant with a medium-sized wine list. The dream of a convivial evening out devoted to wine exploration has turned into a nightmare of unpalatable choices and unending know-it-all-ism. On this week’s VinePair podcast, Adam and Zach are joined by tastings editor and former wine bar owner Keith Beavers to discuss what went wrong, and why, with American wine bars.

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