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Restaurant-goers want better wine service when dining out according to the results of Wine Spectator's Restaurant Wine Service Survey that polled more than 18,000 respondents. The results are featured in the August 31 issue of Wine Spectator, which will hit newsstands soon. I'll post a link to the results when the story is published on WineSpectator.com. In the meantime, share your own experiences with restaurant wine programs, and your opinions about wine lists, sommeliers and corkage policies here.
 
Posts: 317 | Location: New York | Registered: Jun 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Isn't this how 'Madder than Hell' started? Big Grin


Paul Romero (tlily)- Owner, Winemaker, Tour Guide
Stefania Wine
http://www.stefaniawine.com
 
Posts: 7602 | Location: San Jose | Registered: May 24, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Robert, you opened a can of worms.

I HATE:
Somms who know nothing except want they want to push

Poor service

Poor skills, not being able to open a bottle, splashing, over pouring

2nd part of over pouring = pushing folks to drink too fast

No vintage on lists If there is a vintage,, normally out of stock

Over priced bottles

Over priced wine by glass

Poor storage. See often botles standing up in light and sun

wrong temperature

Get static when I order an expensive bottle and am told that I did not order a wine expensive enough to have a decent glass.

Lack of variety. Locals love to push CA only!!

Servers do not know list, what variety there are etc. Most recently was told at Capital Grille that Bordeaux and Champagne districts are next to each other, and wine is basically the same.


Oh I and others can go on & on.


Live simply, Laugh often, Wine a lot!!!
 
Posts: 6244 | Location: Palm Beach Gardens FL | Registered: Nov 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Communication being the root of most problems...

I would say if the wait staff or somms. simply asked the people they were serving what they wanted, most of these issues would cease to exist.

If I were asked what kind of stemware I wanted, how I wanted to handle the pouring, order of bottles to be served, etc. everyone would know what everyone wanted, and there would be no assumptions to make errors off of.


So much wine.....so little time!!!
 
Posts: 7015 | Location: San Francisco | Registered: Jun 20, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wow, this is a huge topic but I'll just rant on one issue that I encountered the other night. I was at a popular steak joint in NYC that natually actively markets its wine program. It has a huge wine list. All 3 wines that I ordered didn't actually physically exist in the cellar, just on paper or in the Sommelier's head. Now, I know that running a restaurant isn't easy and I know that holding inventory costs money and reprinting a wine list is cumbersome and all that, but...if something is on the list, make a commitment to having it in stock. Don't false advertise and lure me with choice if choice is a fiction. If for some reason you run out of a certain wine, include an insert in the wine list of wines that aren't available. The wait staff tells me when a dish is "86ed" why can't the wine staff tell me when a wine is 86ed? This includes vintages. One sommelier tried to fob off on me a 2002 Hunter Valley Shiraz when I ordered the 2004. Totally different. I like the idea of a core list of great selections that are always in stock and a secondary list where pot luck might reign do to the vagaries of the fine wine market. Truth in advertising is all I ask.
 
Posts: 244 | Registered: May 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by PDNNYC:
I like the idea of a core list of great selections that are always in stock and a secondary list where pot luck might reign do to the vagaries of the fine wine market.

Not a bad idea, really.

I don't actually frequent non BYO establishments much these days. However, if I do go, it greatly irratates me to see a place that takes the time to present a wine list, but withold printing vintages. I'm immediately leery of wanting to go any further into their list.

Martini please!
 
Posts: 15358 | Location: Montreal, QC | Registered: Feb 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've had horrible and incredible wine somellier experiences. I've run hottest and coldest in Washington, DC. (I could, and maybe will, write a mini-novel on this thread, but for the time being...)

The worst: Citronelle (Michael Slater)
The best: Taberna del Alabardero (David Bueno) and Kinkead's (Som's name escapes me, but this was a while ago)


"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" -- W.C. Fields
 
Posts: 7494 | Registered: Dec 05, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I just like for them to open my wine without breaking the cork or spilling the wine on something besides the inside of the glass. I'll either order what I want or bring in what i want. If it's listed on a winelist then they should have it. As far as the cost of reprinting and maintaing a current list, I don't see what the problem is. Paper and ink are not that expensive and their are two sides to every piece of paper. I've eaten at plenty of nice mom & pop restaurants that even mark out the wine if it is not available. As far as having two differant glasses for the wine (1 for the cheaper & 1 for more expensive) this makes no sense. Even if it is a cheap wine it should be treated with some respect.
 
Posts: 140 | Location: here | Registered: May 23, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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#1:

No vintages (or multiple vintages 97/98) listed or the printed vintage is not available.

If you have limited availability, list it as limited or put together an 86'd insert as suggested above.

All of this is unacceptable in a restaurant that has any pride in their wine service and anywhere that feels justified in asking for premium mark-ups on fine wines.


If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
 
Posts: 434 | Location: Minneapolis | Registered: Aug 01, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can think of 4 notorious incidents:

At an offline at Montrachet in NYC with a number of forum members, the sommelier/thief opened our wines at a waiter's station about 12 feet from our table, then poured himself a healthy taste of our wines without asking our permission. I thought we should amputate his hands but was voted down, 6-5.

At 71 Clinton Fresh Foods, the waiter opened our wine out of our view.

At one other restaurant years ago, I forget which one, we ordered a bottle of wine and it was brought to the table opened. I refused it.

At Bistro 115 in Ottawa, I ordered a 2 ounce glass of Vintage Port at the conclusion of dinner. What arrived was about 3/4 of an ounce of sediment bearing wine. When I sent it back, the owner very rudely told me they wouldn't charge me for it, but that they wouldn't open another bottle for me.


Just one more sip.
 
Posts: 36740 | Location: NY | Registered: Oct 18, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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At an offline at Montrachet in NYC with a number of forum members, the sommelier/thief opened our wines at a waiter's station about 12 feet from our table, then poured himself a healthy taste of our wines without asking our permission. I thought we should amputate his hands but was voted down, 6-5.


board-o, who was the swing vote? Anthony Kennedy? ROTFL


"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
 
Posts: 107 | Location: Colorado | Registered: May 11, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hunter voted for the gas chamber after watching the guy pour himself a glass of his Beaux Freres.


Just one more sip.
 
Posts: 36740 | Location: NY | Registered: Oct 18, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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off with his head!


"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
 
Posts: 107 | Location: Colorado | Registered: May 11, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Should the sommelier taste the wine before serving it? This was a question in the survey, and I was surprised how few people said "yes". I prefer this. If I order something off the list, I want the sommelier to make sure it's in good condition; why should I have to decide if the wine is corked? If I bring something, I think the sommelier deserves a taste. But that's because I basically consider (hope) the sommelier is an ally. Many people seem to think it's no better than stealing. Go figure.
 
Posts: 288 | Registered: Dec 11, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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But does the sommelier have a RIGHT to the wine that I paid for? Although I find it irrelevant, every account that I've heard about the now infamous Montrachet dinner, it was more than a taste.

That said, there is a distrust in sommeliers since they have a vested interest. They can, and I'm sure it happens too frequently, push wines that are not the appropriate one for the customer, but for the business.
 
Posts: 1420 | Location: Jersey City | Registered: Feb 22, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Thomas Matthews:
Should the sommelier taste the wine before serving it?

After asking for and receiving our permission.

If I bring something, I think the sommelier deserves a taste.

I always offer a taste.

Many people seem to think it's no better than stealing.

Without our permission, I believe it is.


Just one more sip.
 
Posts: 36740 | Location: NY | Registered: Oct 18, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Personally, I believe that the sommelier should inquire of the guest, whether they prefer he taste the wine or they themselves.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: KSC02,
 
Posts: 15358 | Location: Montreal, QC | Registered: Feb 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I believe that most the people here are capable enought to determine if the wine is bad or not. I don't like the somm to taste the wine because I am the one who ordered it, I know what I like, and am paying for it. Why should I ask someone else if they think if the wine is good when i am fully capable of telling on my own (been very fortunate and have only experienced corked wine a couple times at the restaurant). When I bring wine I do ask the person who is providing wine service if they would like a sample if they show interest.
 
Posts: 140 | Location: here | Registered: May 23, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by flwino:
2nd part of over pouring = pushing folks to drink too fast
I find this quite a common problem - sommeliers who pour wine into my glass more often than necessary and in greater quantity than I want to consume it.

If I am with someone else, I often don't notice what he is doing until it is almost too late to wave him off. And since I refuse to be pushed by this, I find my wine glass gets more and more full as the meal goes on. (Doesn't he have eyes in his head? Mad )

Rather than get into an argument with someone who's obviously a dickhead, I just refrain from going there any more. (I also have asked the sommelier to stop serving me any more.)
 
Posts: 5075 | Location: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Feb 14, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The wine list has one vintage listed and the bottle presented to you is not that vintage. I had this happen recently at a place not only proud of its wine program, but that gave a current fairly hot somm/winemaker his start in the business.

Board-O, had the port/sediment thing happen to me recently also at a Sullivan's. I specifically asked the waiter to check how long the bottle of 63 Taylor had been opened. He came back with a glass telling me the bottle had just been opened. The oxidized taste and 3/4 glass of sediment demonstrated it was the last glass, not the first glass. When I sent it back, after already having two quality bottles of wine, I met some resistance. I guess I'll spend $40 on cocktails next time vs. $250 on wine.
 
Posts: 569 | Location: Tucson | Registered: Aug 05, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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i with Board-o on this 100%!!!!!!!

you ask before you take!!!
 
Posts: 3031 | Registered: Mar 12, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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1. A bottle should never be opened and decanted out of your site, whether BYO or off the list.

2. Stemware is a big investment for a restaurant but it makes all the difference in the world. Call me a glass snob but drinking wine out of some heavy, thick rimed IKEA glass is just not cool.

3. The best experiences I have had with sommeliers is when they take the time to learn what I’m thinking of eating, my wine preferences, maybe some specific examples of bottles I have enjoyed in the past. You build a quick relationship and the rest of the night goes smooth.
 
Posts: 6400 | Location: OC, CA  | Registered: Aug 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Thomas Matthews:
Should the sommelier taste the wine before serving it? This was a question in the survey, and I was surprised how few people said "yes". I prefer this. If I order something off the list, I want the sommelier to make sure it's in good condition; why should I have to decide if the wine is corked? If I bring something, I think the sommelier deserves a taste. But that's because I basically consider (hope) the sommelier is an ally. Many people seem to think it's no better than stealing. Go figure.


I usually offer the som a taste ... but the somm should never taste the wine before serving it, let alone pour himself a healthy glass with out me offering.

I would imagine that you should ALWAYS decide if the wine is corked. Can you imagine what would happen if James Laube had his readers decide for him whether or not a wine is corked??


This is my sig -> www.brownteacup.com
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Posts: 11609 | Location: NYC | Registered: Feb 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When I was 22 and my girfriend was 20 or 21 we went to Citronelle in DC and dealt with the sommelier (Michael Slater). It was a huge splurge for us -- college students spending over $100pp just on food. I already seriously knew my wine, by I was not encylopedic about every wine ever made and what it was rated.

On the list @ $160 was the 1995 Cos d'Estournel. @ $170 was the 1996 Chateau Figeac. I asked the somellier to choose between these two and he said, "they are very different, but especially since you are having the lamb, I would go with the Figeac." The wine was opened and we were not offered a decanter. I tasted the wine, and told the somellier it was fine, but only to pour a little into each glass to allow the wine to breathe. He did. Upon first sip, my girlfriend immediately noticed omething was off. We discussed if the wine was corked, then called over the somellier again and asked him to taste to confirm. He did taste the wine and pronounced that it was not corked, but simply had a lot of brett -- and that was natural and would blow off. We figured, if he thought it best to deant the wine he would have offered -- he did not, we did not ask. (Our problem wasn't only with the brett, but wit the lack of fruit.)

The wine was mediocre at best, though the brett did dissipate a little. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the wine, though. It wasnt corked, it just wasn't good.

After dinner, I looked up the scores on the two wines I had asked about.
1995 Cos d'Estournel: WS 93, RP 95, ST 92+
1996 Figeac: WS 85, RP 82, ST 87

That was hard lesson to learn -- we were at what was supposed to be the best restaurant in DC, with the best sommelier, and he figured we were two kids, so he intentionally screwed us.

But I think there are a lot of non-predatoy sommeliers in the world, too. It is just so hard to know which one you are going to get.

I knew about Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz before anyone else -- the '01 had just been released (not yet rated by anyone -- tured out to be RP 96) and I was at dinner with my parents and brother at Roy's Kahana in Maui. My parents aren't super into wine, but they like it, so they gave me the wine list and I kinda knew what they wanted to spend. I ordered a Zin for $70 -- a Neyers Tofanelli, iirc. They were out, so the sommelier came over and asked if he could substitute it with a more expensive wine and charge the same price; he suggested one that was $85 or $90 on the list and then I asked him about a 1998 Shiraz off the list that was also $85, knowing that '98 was a good year. He looked at me and said, "well, if you like Shiraz, get this and we'll charge you for the initial bottle" and pointed at the 2001 Henry's Drive Reserve which was also about $90. I was either 22 or 23 at the time and the sommelier was very impressed with my wine knowledge so he came by a few times to chat -- mostly about the wines of Australia which it turns out he loved -- but not in an obtrusive fashion. At the end of the meal he said he had a dessert wine open that we should try, so we did; he only gave us small pours, but he wasn't charging -- that was my first experience with a Chambers Grand Muscat (RP 99, btw).


"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" -- W.C. Fields
 
Posts: 7494 | Registered: Dec 05, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Taylor:
...your opinions about wine lists, sommeliers and corkage policies here.


1) Wine lists in Colorado are very over priced, rarely less than three times retail.

2) Corkage is illegal in Colorado, with the result being number 1.

3) Rare is the sommelier who is more than a glorified sales person for the restaurant. I can't remember the last time I was asked what I planned to order to eat before the recommendations started to flow.

As a result, I RARELY order wines in restaurants. Frankly, I rarely go out to eat in them, and if I do, I will generally order an alternative beverage. I am sick of paying $30-40 for a basic CdR just to have some wine with my meal.

Then again, there are a few places that wink and nod to corkage when prior arrangements are made. With research, it is amazing how many restaurants have a line for corkage in their computer.

Moo


Your share of the national debt has increased by $16.043.39 from 01/21/09 - 04/17/12. Have you wondered how high this would be if you had the wonderful Brit banking regulators instead?

When the federal budget deficit stands at $1.5 trillion, the spectacle of congressmen and senators waxing indignant about the irresponsibility of others is laughable.

Due to the recession and new environmental restrictions imposed by the EPA, the light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off until further notice.
 
Posts: 1113 | Location: East BF, Egypt | Registered: May 15, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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