Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wine service

When a restaurant decides to offer a wine list and charge people for that service, shouldn't a basic set of rules and etiquette be followed? I have yet to dine at a restaurant who's servers truly understand how to serve wine, without the heavy-handed clumsiness so prevalent in North American purveyors of fine cuisine.

I don't usually have an issue with recommendations, because I don't eat often at those types of restaurants with the leather bound wine catalogue and snooty sommelier roaming the dining room. And most often, I have a good idea what I want to drink. No, choosing a wine isn't a problem, unless the wine list is shit awful.

The issue I have is mostly with how they present and serve the wine. Firstly, I want them to give me the damn cork. I don't need to sniff it, I just want to see it. I want to be able to match the branding on the cork to the label, and want to see if there's any discernible flaw visible. You know, to make sure that it's not moldy and streaked with wine, especially if its a young wine.

Second, I want them to pour at most 3 ounces. It's absolutely ridiculous when they fill up half the glass, in this cheap attempt to get you to drink faster so you'll hopefully order another bottle. Absolutely ridiculous. It's gotten bad enough that I've put my hand over my glass to stop these maniacs. You don't need to refill someone's glass after every sip. Really, there's no need to do that.

Finally, the temperature. Same old problem - whites are served too cold, reds are served too warm. I don't want an ice-cold bottle of white wine served. You can't taste anything if it's icy - the Chablis I drank last week was the most recent example where I couldn't even tell that it was wine. Just awful, especially when you're charging $12 per glass.

There you go. My peeves with wine service. It's not complicated, it's not about being difficult. Learn how to serve wine properly, and it will reflect positively on the entire dining experience. I order wine in restaurants because I want to taste wines that I may not otherwise think to buy myself. When it's not served properly, it completely ruins the experience. Might as well stick to water. Good old, tap fresh water.

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