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  Editorial Issue 72, March 2009   
The Art of Serving WineThe Art of Serving Wine  Contents 
Issue 71, February 2009 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 73, April 2009

The Art of Serving Wine


 The evening seems to be the right one. At the table of a restaurant, in good company, everything seems to anticipate an enjoyable evening with nice food matched to nice wine. Also the restaurant looks nice: the room is inviting and reassuring, the lovely mise en place anticipates the house's style, the personnel is kind and everything seems to confirm we have chosen the right place. A quick look to the menu arouses our fantasy and - being good wine lovers - we foretaste the foods matched to wines perfectly suited for what we will soon have in our dishes. The waitress gives us the wine list, promptly saying a sommelier will come to our table and will help us choosing a wine. «Wow! They even have a sommelier in this restaurant!», this is our first and delighted comment, something ensuring we will have a good service of wine and the certainty the restaurant has nice bottles.


 

 At the first glance and considering the remarkable number of pages, the wine list looks like an encyclopedia's volume. The first remark, without even opening it, is that it will take a lot of time before we will choose our wine, as we think it would be nice and pleasing to browse such a huge wine list. We open the wine list and, at the first glance, it seems to be well organized: wines listed by type and area of origin, with pages dedicated to foreign wines and with good offers, including prices. We continue to browse the wine list, looking for a nice wine, and suddenly appears a white page, as well as the next page, just like all the rest. In other words, not even one fifth of this volume is used for wines, whereas the rest is occupied by useless and empty white pages. With irony, we think in this restaurant they are thinking about enlarging the cellar and, while waiting the job is done, they probably have thought about leaving a proper number of pages in the wine list! One thing is certain: the initial enthusiasm begins to fade, replaced by a veiled skepticism.

 We browse the few pages of this volume again, and we finally make our choice, convinced the wine we chose is the right one for accompanying our dinner. At the table comes the waitress again to whom we tell our choice: after having repeated for two times the name of the wine and then to let her reading the name in the wine list, we wait for the bottle to come to our table, perfectly served in the nice glasses she brought to our table. After about ten minutes of waiting, the waitress comes back and says they could not find the bottle we ordered and therefore they suspect that wine is not available anymore. To reassure us, she says the sommelier will come to our table and will suggest a new wine. While we wait for the sommelier to come, disappointed by the fact we will not taste the wine we chose, we browse the wine list again and then we choose another wine.

 The “sommelier” finally comes: a man with a scarcely neat look, a couple days' growth of beard, a scarcely professional and sloppy dress, a behavior showing a slight intolerance and a non friendly “haughtiness”. We try to go beyond his appearance and we order our second choice. The “sommelier” tells us they ran out of this wine, too. We have the same answer at our third choice as well. Annoyed and disappointed, we ask the “sommelier” to suggest a wine. Proud of such a “trust”, he suggests a wine of a winery he claims to have personally discovered and selected and that he consider excellent. We accept his suggestion, looking forward to try something new and, hopefully, interesting. After few minutes, he comes back to our table with a bottle and - right now - he gives his very best: the bottle held by the neck, corkscrew stuck in the cork with strength, we watch with disconcertment, to the horrifying rite of uncorking. After having furiously fought the bottle, by continuously rotating and shaking it, while strongly pulling the corkscrew, at the end of this piteous fight, the cork surrenders announcing its defeat with a loud “pop”. We don't even think what could have happened with a bottle of sparkling wine. Not to mention, the wine was a stupendous representative of mediocrity.

 This is not a story, this is something really happened and, sadly, a fact which can be seen with a worrying frequency. Not just for the improbable “wine lists” which are frequently found in restaurants - and often mention wines which are not available and which should at least signaled, even better, removed - but in particular for the lack of professionalism too frequently seen in service. Even worse, when they boast having competences they cannot show with facts, to the detriment of those who effectively have such competences. We don't think we are exaggerating: wine service is something serious, something which can certainly make the difference in a restaurant, something which can ruin the content of a bottle when improperly done. We are not saying every restaurant should have a qualified sommelier who knows the job: it is understandable such a professional figure has a cost and that sometimes this is not “suited” with the style of certain restaurants.

 This not however excludes the fact in every restaurant they should at least make use of the basics of wine service, after all the rules for ensuring an “essential” service are not so much. Moreover, it is not just a matter of professionalism, it is also a matter of respect for clients who pay for a service. No one expects - or at least, not in all restaurants - an academic and impeccable service, but it is also true no one wants to see the ordered bottle roughly mistreated. Wine service certainly is an art, and just like any other type of art, it is not something for anyone, it also takes a vocation and a personal attitude. Moreover, a bad service, and not only for wine, discredits and damage the credibility and the pleasantness of a restaurant, no matter what it is. Just because one chooses to go to the restaurant to satisfy a need which goes far beyond the simple act of “eating and drinking”: this is something everyone can do at home and, in particular, at a more convenient price. Service is an art: one should understand it before posing as a pathetic and clumsy puppet dressed as a peacock spreading its tail, showing the littleness of their disconcerting lack of professionalism.

 




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  Editorial Issue 72, March 2009   
The Art of Serving WineThe Art of Serving Wine  Contents 
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