JUST WINE TALK: RESTAURANT WINE SERVICE

Friday, 3/16, Little Rock, AR

As I continue my road to 100% recovery from the plague, or something that felt like it, I wanted to share a column I recently read in the WSJ by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher regarding restaurant wine service. Several great pet peeves were mentioned that I've experienced as I'm sure anybody who has been drinking wine for any length of time has has the displeasure to experience as well. Let me know of any others that weren't discussed and I'll mention them in a later posting.

1. Overfilling glasses when you've ordered a bottle.

This is where the wait-staff 'park' as much wine as they can get into a glass. I guess the reasoning on their part is that you'll drink more and therefore order more but as far as I'm concerned it makes me not want to order more just to spite them!

2. Wait-staff pouring wine from an ordered bottle at all.

This is just like it sounds and I am in the camp that says I would rather pour my own when I want more rather than have the wait-staff decide.

3. Decanting without permission.

Another self explanatory one. This is where the wine is decanted without even asking the patron. Evidently this does occur although I haven't seen it in my day. If a wine was decanted without permission I would have to reject it and tell them to bring a new bottle. Thoughts?

4. Decanting out of sight.

This is where the wait-staff takes a wine to be decanted out of sight. Some readers mentioned that they couldn't be assured it was the same wine they had ordered but I think this could easily be overcome by requesting the cork from the decanted bottle. Still if I was having a wine decanted I would always request that it be done at the table.

5. Serving reds too warm and whites too cold.

I've seen this a lot where the red being served is room temperature and the whites almost have ice crystals in them. Any restaurant that is going to serve wine should at least know the appropriate temperature to serve it at.

6. Taking away glasses before they're truly empty.

Probably my #1 complaint is this. I can't tell you how many times #1 or I have had to almost yell at wait-staff to not take the glass away. I've even had some try to take a glass that has more than just a taste left. On one occasion I even called a manager over after the glass was taken when one of us had hit the restroom and told them that they really should bring out another glass to share due to the amount that was absconded with. Any reputable restaurant should honor a request like that.

7. Ungenerous, or nonstandard , pours of wines by the glass.

Another major pet peeve of mine. You would think that a restaurant would pour on the heavy side rather than the light side but that isn't always the case. Several times in the past I've commented about the puny pour and told them that I wouldn't be back if that was how they treated their customers. Why lose ALL my business by cutting back on the pour? Doesn't make much fiscal sense as far as I'm concerned.

8. Dirty glasses.

Really, how hard is it to get a glass clean or at least inspect them before you pour into them? But if you're like me you've had to point out a dirty glass with lip prints, finger prints and god knows what else, that has just had a full pour. Several times I've told the wait-staff that not only did I not want that pour but that they could bring out clean glasses and a new bottle.

Let me know if you've got other bad restaurant experiences with your wine. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

2 comments:

Ben said...

I would add that it is important for the wait staff to decant in the correct container depending on the wine. I once brought an older Cab to a restaurant and when I asked for the wine to be decanted (to remove sediment) it was brought to the table about 15 minutes later in a wide based container, had been thoroughly aerated, and was already starting to fade.

Rob W said...

Great point Ben. So many restaurants don't seem to have a clue which is really surprising!

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