Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Service of Inspiration: It’s All About Attitude

Monday, January 4th, 2021

Photo: thedancebarn.co.uk

Service is the root of my posts and the inspiration of my 12 year old blog. Memory of exceptionally bad service I received since I was a teen remain and fascinate me which is why I chose the topic. [I even remember a bus driver who yelled at my mother when I was young.]

I’ve previously written about the ruthlessly nasty man behind the engagement ring counter at Cartier. My fiancée and I were in our early 20s. His nasty attitude made its mark. Fully aware that this was only one person, I have nevertheless avoided the brand ever since.

I had a flashback to that exchange when I entered the local liquor store I’d frequented since the pandemic started after a lovely New Years Day walk with a friend. I didn’t recognize the two behind the counter in the otherwise empty store. They were chatting in French and didn’t greet me. I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket. I asked them “Can you please recommend a good red wine in the $10 range?”

One of them answered “No,” and turned back to his conversation. The single word felt like a slap.

Photo: blog.fivestars.com

I’ve never worked in retail sales but given a live customer and the fact there were no other customers waiting I’d have shown her a red costing $15 if necessary saying “You should give this one a try even though it’s a bit more.”

I wished I’d not let my French rot over years of neglect or I’d have mouthed a few choice words. Why were they working in a store with specially priced wines prominently displayed by price from $5.99 to $15?

I never gave Cartier another chance though I plan to return to the wine store to learn if the men are new owners or employees. If the latter, I will share my experience. If the former, I will find another store.

My wine store of choice is Trader Joe’s on 14th Street. Trader Joe’s hasn’t delivered in a few years and is not convenient–I avoid public transportation for frivolous reasons these days. Wine snobs: sneer all you like but I have been happier with wines I’ve bought there starting at $6 than I have some at $16 from the local store.

Have you noticed that insulting service is infrequent these days and therefore more startling? Do you have recent superbly good or bad service experiences to share?

Photo: locations.traderjoes.com

 

 

Service of Wine Swine Who Take Advantage of a Host or Hostess

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Photo: Pinterest.com

Photo: Pinterest.com

 

Another Lettie Teague Wall Street Journal wine column caught my attention: “When Your Dinner Guest Orders a $700 Bottle of Wine: An Etiquette Guide.” I’ve covered her refreshingly no-nonsense column before. The subhead for this article was: “Learn how to deal with wine hogs, shameless business associates and more with these top etiquette tips for oenophiles behaving badly.”

I object to people who take advantage of others. It goes far beyond instances of rude guests making selections of inappropriately pricey wine which is the reason the topic especially appealed to me.

Some of her examples:  

  • Three dentists went out to dinner, one claiming to be a wine expert. The so-called authority ordered three bottles of Napa Cabernet which cost $1,000+ and let the others pick up the tab. [Teague’s dentist was one of the patsies.]
  • Guests who bring an expensive wine to a dinner and hog it allWine as gift or people who down what’s in their glass as the waiter approaches to refill to ensure they get more than their fair share.

If her friend, author Paul Sullivan, is hosting a dinner and his guests pick a ridiculously  extravagant wine his strategy is to say: “That’s a fascinating choice, but I don’t know if it will go with what we’re having.” He calls over the sommelier, names the extravagant wine and asks for “something over here that’s more interesting,” while pointing in the direction of more reasonably priced choices. Teague writes that a good sommelier will catch on.

Removing cork from wine bottleAnother of the reporter’s friends, an ad exec, calls ahead and selects the wine to be served to avoid a preposterous dent in her expense account when entertaining some clients who take advantage of her agency because they know it picks up the tab. However, she told Teague: “I’ve never had a client who had a sophisticated palate take advantage of a business dinner.”

While infrequently, and not recently, I’ve also been hijacked by guests—clients or friends–whose pricey or excessive choices in the alcoholic beverage category have landed heavily on my credit card. Have you? Do you have successful techniques that parry greedy tendencies of others involving wine or any other thing?

Pouring wine

Service of Wine: Protocol & Practice

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Serving wine 1

Wine expert Lettie Teague covered “7 Habits of Annoying Wine People, Readers’ Edition,” in The Wall Street Journal. [She’d written about her own peeves in an earlier article.] I agreed with some of the grievances and was curious about others.

Like her readers I also am irritated when given harsh tasting house wine by-the-glass, reminiscent of nail polish remover, when a restaurant has countless toothsome low-priced choices to pick from these days. At fundraisers wine often tastes atrocious, equally unacceptable for the same reason.

wine glasses 1Readers told Teague they’d been served fabulous, expensive wine in crummy glasses which spoiled the impact and taste of the vintage. This hasn’t happened to me.

They were understandably perturbed when they’d bought a wine touted on a card in a store by “critics [who] rated [a wine] 95 out of 100 points only to find that it’s not the actual wine they were rating.” I don’t buy wines of this caliber so have missed the bait-and-switch, as Teague called this blunder, in which the copy about the top-rated, promoted wine applies to the previous year’s vintage, not the bottle on the shelf.

waiter with wineHer readers complained that too many sommeliers automatically hand the wine list to a man when they should ask who, at the table, would like to order it. When Teague chooses the wine, the server regularly gives the first taste to her husband. Her pique increases when her husband actually tastes it!

She also wrote about extravagant corkage fees: “As many as 80% of the restaurants in New Jersey don’t have liquor licenses, due to the state’s antiquated liquor laws. Most observe a bring-your-own-bottle policy, and legally, they aren’t allowed to charge a corkage fee.” But they can in Manhattan where Teague has seen them as high as $150 at Per Se, but generally, she wrote, they range between $35 and $50. She reported that restaurants like Le Bernadin don’t permit visiting wines at any price.

I go back and forth on the next situation though from a slightly different perspective. Teague asks: “As a guest, if you bring along a nice bottle, shouldn’t you expect to be served something as good in return?” I ask: “Should you serve a wine a friend brings?” My husband collected wine over the years. Today, some bottles are a rare treat. He opens a special bottle just before guests arrive so the wine has time to breathe. At the same time, we want to honor a gift.

champagne in bucketTeague continued, “Some might argue that a guest should not expect to drink the bottle he or she brings, with which I agree in principle, although this doesn’t make it any less painful to trade a lovely Grand Cru Chablis for a bottle of $10 Concha y Toro Chardonnay.” A friend of hers brought chilled Champagne in an ice bucket expecting the host to take the hint and open it but instead he put away the bubbly and that was that.

Like Teague I was surprised by the complaint about staff in wine tasting rooms wearing strong perfume. I don’t care for powerful scents anywhere—in an office, plane or meeting room—and especially not near food or wine. It gives me a headache. I love freesia but would never use them in a centerpiece as the sweet scent can overpower food and bother some guests.

Do you have other wine-related likes and dislikes? Do you agree/disagree with those of the Journal’s readers?

 serving wine 2

Service of It Must Be Good: It’s Expensive Part I

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Napa Valley vineyards 2

I came upon two examples that illustrate the belief that some maintain: If something costs a lot the service or product must be good.

Here’s the first one:

Bottoms Up!

Vindu Goel wrote about one of the most valuable grapes produced in this country, cabernet cabernet s grapessauvignon from the Napa Valley. A bottle of the wine costs $100 vs. $25-$30 for a good one from grapes grown next door in the Lake Country, he wrote.

The price, according to Goel in The New York Times, “is based more on consumers’ belief in the superiority of the region’s grapes than in the inherent quality of the liquid in the bottle.” Master sommeliers such as Emmanuel Kemiji concur. Kemiji is one of 220 master sommeliers in the world and he observed that he would “find it nearly impossible to discern the true geographic origin of a well-made cabernet.”

[A friend hated it when her dad poured cheap wine into a fancy bottle for dinner parties and she would cringe when a guest complimented him on his choice and on the wine.]

Goel’s story, “In Vino Veritas. In Napa, Deceit,” is about more than this wine. It’s about a charming con-man, Jeff Hill, Hill Wine Company, who took investors and partners to the cleaners, which the title foretells.

I have been a discount shopper since the dark age so I tend to be less of a proponent of “if it’s expensive it must be good,” and more enthusiastic about something that appears wonderful at a reasonable price. Have you found yourself falling for or appreciating wine, or something else that is expensive, simply because it costs a lot? What else?

I will share an example in the world of healthcare in my next post.

cabernet s in a glass

 

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics