Why? Seriously, Why?

Posted on Sunday 19 August 2007

I drink cheap wine. I would like to drink better wine. Hell, I would like to drink incredible wine.

I drink cheap wine because that’s what I can afford, and sometimes, as is the case with a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, I actually prefer it (the hint of grapefruit makes it a favorite). I am willing to try anything on sale under $10 and anything with a screwtop, although I am still reticent to try anything boxed (I know, it’s gotten better…).

At this juncture, I will not bore my readers any further about my simplistic wine knowledge. When I need to know more about wine, I know enough to call on those who know it all. Thankfully, every GM I have worked for has known it all.

Something happened in my restaurant, however, that makes me wonder about wine–its mystique, its allure, its ability to bring out certain personality traits in those we serve.

A guest overtly and literally sneered at the wine list I handed him. This same guest then told his server he wanted to order a wine “you can’t find on this list.” This guest then proceeded to prop his sneaker-clad feet on the seat of his very nice booth, as if this booth was his sofa at home. He spoke with an attitude that couldn’t hide his lack of manners and his feigned arrogance, which served only to accentuate everything else wrong with him. In fact, when he spoke loud enough so all in the dining room could hear him, he was all too obvious about what he was. He was an ass.

I felt sorry for his girlfriend, at first. Then I didn’t feel sorry for her at all. He was so obviously a characature of a pain-in-the-ass that she deserved him, if she was willing to put up with him past an appetizer.

He ordered a very expensive bottle of wine–a very, very expensive bottle of wine. He tasted it, kept the bottle for 15 minutes, then he said it was no good and sent it back.

The wine was fine, of course. It was perfect, in fact.

“You can taste it if you want,” my GM said to me later that evening.

“No thanks,” I told him. I was sick to my stomach by how this ass had behaved. With who he was, and who he wasn’t. He had ruined the wine.

Why? Why bother with the show? Sure, sure–to get the freebie. But it was more than that to you, wasn’t it? Did you want to drink from a big-boy bottle of wine to be the big, tough guy in front of the girl? Did this fine red wine make you bigger and tougher? What do you do for an encore on nights such as these? No, please, don’t answer that.

Did you actually think the staff would scramble to make sure all else was okay, or that we ultimately cared about you as a coveted guest? No one scrambled, but we actually do care very much about you. Because you will never eat here again. You won’t know that you will never eat here again until the next time you want to eat here again. And on the evening of that next time you want to eat here, we will have a full book, and your name won’t be in it. Ever again.

You could have had a nice dinner with your girl. You could have enjoyed your wine. You could have enjoyed your evening. But instead, you were just looking for…what?

Seriously, what was the point?

Actually, I don’t care. Goodbye, sir.

14 Comments for 'Why? Seriously, Why?'

  1.  
    J
    August 19, 2007 | 5:02 pm
     

    Wine arrogance shows itself in many forms. The most basic of which is the Guy (and yes, all these pricks are male, and no that’s not generalizing) take the attitude that he knows a touch about wine (usually enough to read the right side of the list and buy whatever’s expensive) taste it and keep it or just send it back on the basis of showing his arrogance. There’s a lot to love about wine, and there are plenty of reasons to send a bottle back (for example if the Sommolier chose it and it was a terrible pairing with the food and he knew it to be paired with food or if the bottle is corked) but there’s no reason to have an overly showy attitude about it. Love wine because you love wine. Love the delicate flavors and how much it reveals about from where it came and the people who made it. Love it because it imparts a flavor on the tongue unlike anything else, but don’t love it to show off.

  2.  
    August 19, 2007 | 6:38 pm
     

    Just like the guy who drives a Corvette, wears $200 jeans, and wears “eye candy” on his arm, this guy has something to prove. Those items are what I call (forgive the French) “p***s extenders”. These ass-wipes are just little boys who’ve been humiliated all their lives for whatever reason. While at first I would burn inside at their behavior, ultimately I would feel pity afterward. My old staff and I came up with a secret sign to cheer up whichever unlucky server that had the misfortune of waiting on said dirtbag. You hold thumb and forefinger two inches apart, out of sight of the guests of course. Where I worked, it was usually on a nightly basis, especially week-ends.

  3.  
    Julie
    August 20, 2007 | 1:23 am
     

    Well, that guy will never be me. I usually stick to one glass of white wine if I have any at all. To say the least, I’m not wine savvy. I just know what I like. And, to me, a good glass of white wine is one that is still enjoyable if it isn’t icy cold.

    Ex-RM: Sounds like you had a good way of lightening the stress of the jerk customer.

  4.  
    August 20, 2007 | 7:36 am
     

    First time commenter….

    If it wasn’t the wine it would have been something else, steak “over/under cooked” though perfect. The lighting would have been too bright or the room too warm. These bitches just like the sound of their own voices. Insecure bed wetters who like to have a go at the “little” people like us. Small willy, it has an effect on some men you know…

    Be grateful you don’t have Guinness drinkers to contend with, hairy bastards…

    Hey if you like NZ Sauvignon Blanc try THE NED, Lovely bottle of wine.

  5.  
    Jennifer
    August 20, 2007 | 10:23 am
     

    What a complete and utter asshat. It’s sad when men have to do that to compensate for their small……… brains. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6.  
    August 20, 2007 | 11:27 am
     

    Jennifer beat me to the punch. I’m glad the whole restaurant could hear him: many more people are now aware of an asshole to avoid. (usually it’s just the poor server)

    I have zero knowledge of wines. Every thing I’ve sampled tastes pretty much the same to me.

  7.  
    maureen
    August 20, 2007 | 2:10 pm
     

    I am some one who really enjoys wine but doesn’t know that much about it . It’s been my experience that if I convey this to my server ,most enjoy making suggestions & educating me I’ve tasted some great new wines & learned something along the way .I’ve also been out with some real wine people these people would never pull a stunt like your customer did.To waste a good bottle of wine would be considered a crime !!!

  8.  
    August 20, 2007 | 4:07 pm
     

    J–I wonder, has anyone out there encountered a female wine jerk?

    Ex RM–Very well put ๐Ÿ™‚

    Julie–I’m good for two glasses, maybe a touch more after a tough day in the trenches.

    Manuel–Welcome, and thanks for the comment. Nice visual of the Guinness drinkers!

    Jennifer–Right, brains.

    Jali–When ARE we going out drinking, anyway??

    Maureen–Real people don’t pull stunts like that, with wine or anything else! The waste of the wine that night was, in a word, gross.

  9.  
    August 20, 2007 | 4:08 pm
     

    How often do you get somebody like that? Is it always the men trying to impress, or do you sometimes get a table full of women, with one that does something similar?

  10.  
    Restaurant Gal
    August 20, 2007 | 4:13 pm
     

    Joe–I am new to this restaurant, so I don’t know if this happens often, or ever. In D.C., I periodically saw the food version of this–the eat-most-of-the-expensive-entree-and-send-it-back-for-a-comp ploy. This guy, however, was plain awful. He is not the norm by any measure, I hope!

  11.  
    Andrew in NZ
    August 21, 2007 | 7:05 pm
     

    I’d be interested in hearing which NZ Sauvignon blanc you like. There are many nice ones. I’m a big fan of ‘Stoneleigh’ or ‘Oyster Bay’…

  12.  
    MsChaos
    August 21, 2007 | 8:41 pm
     

    Have you read Alpana Pours: About Being a Woman, Loving Wine, and Having Great Relationships?

    it is actually a great book that celebrates all sorts of wine and why we like it and it explains the different varieties

    and she also snubs her nose at thos sorts of people too

    while $$$ can be a treat, I prefer to find those lovely bottles for less than 10 bucks a bottle myself

  13.  
    GG
    August 27, 2007 | 5:52 pm
     

    I hate when people put their shoes on the couch/chair anything. I saw this teen do that in a pedicure place. Perhaps its because shoes == dirty in my culture.
    RG, how annoying that guy must have been..

  14.  
    P-Girl
    September 2, 2007 | 9:22 am
     

    I had a charmer like that one night. He ordered the same bottle of wine that he had been drinking at the bar. I presented the bottle, opened and poured Mr. Charm School Dropout a taste. Of course it wasn’t acceptable and sent me back to the bar for another bottle of the same wine. I shoved the cork back down into the bottle and brought it back to the table, and guess what? Mr. CSD said “Oh yes, this is MUCH BETTER!”
    I never understood people who go out of their way to be difficult/”special”. No matter what, they will always find a problem with something.

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