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   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 142, Summer 2015   
About Certain Restaurateurs Who Believe to Be SlyAbout Certain Restaurateurs Who Believe to Be Sly  Contents 
Issue 141, June 2015 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 143, September 2015

About Certain Restaurateurs Who Believe to Be Sly


 Milan, Isola district, in an unusually sultry evening to be the beginning of June. Not so far, by just walking to the end of a street, there is Piazzale Carlo Archinto, the place where the great Luigi Veronelli was born - his family had a house right in this square - and here he lived the first part of his life. Isola district probably is one of the most typical places of the capital of Lombardy, where, maybe, it can still be found a certain milanese identity, of what it is left of a Milan of the past and that, today, they preferred to barter with a frivolous and frantically empty appearance. Isola district, with its straight streets, it is rich in restaurants and places where you can spend some good time, placidly sitting at a table: it is quite impossible not to find the right place for spending some good time. Right this sultry evening of June seems to be the right occasion to go to a restaurant of this district, a place I added a long time ago in my personal list of places to visit.


 

 The restaurant also offers the chance to have a dinner outside, in a gazebo in the adjacent street. It is a pity to be late: what they can offer is a table in the inside room, a place near a window looking out to this street, it seems to promise a sort of relief to the sultry heat. The table is attended by a waiter who, according to what I can understand, is also the head waiter and sommelier of the restaurant, he seems to be gentle and welcoming, two qualities I always appreciate and like. Everything seems to be right - according to what this place can offer - I am certainly not expecting to have the culinary and gastronomic experience of my life. Indeed, I certainly expect a lot less: by considering what I see, I guess the service and quality will be the one you usually get in an average restaurant. After all, the furniture and table setting, the organization of service and reception, cannot make me think about something different from that. So far, so good.

 As usual, I focus on wine list as I generally order my meal according to the wine I wish to have. It is not something I do every time, I however admit this is what I do most of the times, also according to the restaurant and what they have in their menu and wine list. In a sultry evening like that, I am thinking about the relief a fine glass of white wine can give and this seems to be the right time for having a Fiano di Avellino. The wine list, to tell the truth, has just one, so I do not have alternatives. It is a wine usually sold in wine shops at about ten euros, here they serve it at the table for twenty-five. A pretty high profit for a wine the restaurateur certainly buys for about five euros: it is obvious it is the common habit of certain “restaurateurs” who believe wine is something to speculate on and from which getting high profits. It is also true that, knowing its wholesale price - I personally know its producer - and the price at which can be usually found in wine shops, it is up to me to order it or not. After all, the price is clearly stated in the wine list, although vintage is missing and this is something I always consider to be bad.

 I admit these high profits always make me think about the typical “sly restaurateur”, one of those who believe clients are usually naïve persons and can be deceived and cheated the way they like. For these “intelligent restaurateurs”, wine represents a product from which getting very high profits, while complaining they do not sell it and have a lot of bottles in the cellar. They do not understand a wine sold at an honest price makes they sell a second bottle to the same table and, by uncorking a second bottle, they may also sell more dishes. The wine I ordered has been brought to the table, served by this “head waiter”, whom, after having uncorked the bottle, turns around and smells the cork. With a smile, takes the bottle and pours the wine in my glass for a preliminary tasting. I smell the wine and - alas - it is unequivocally corked. It can happen, of course, although I wonder what the “head waiter” smelled when he turned around.

 «Pardon me, the wine is corked», I say. «Do you think so?», he replies. «I think so!», I insist. The “head waiter” takes the cork from his pocket, still screwed in the corkscrew, and removes it with his bare hands. This is not however something I would have passed on: when I order a wine at the restaurant, I always want them to leave the cork at my table; this is something I would have asked him anyway. By holding the cork with his hands, he quickly passes it under my nose: he probably thought that, by doing do, it was quite impossible for me to smell something. «Sir» - I tell him - «it is so evident the cork is tainted by TCA». I wonder whether he knows what it is. «It certainly is the smell of barrique», he says with a huge smile. «Well» - I say - «this would be quite bizarre as this wine has been aged in a steel tank. Don't you think so?». I see he has now a surprised and irritated look, then he says he would have replaced the bottle, of course. He also says, with an arrogant and conceited voice, he is an expert and that - besides working in that restaurant - he is a retailer of wine, two things I personally consider to be aggravating.

 He takes the bottle and glass away and, after sometimes, he comes back with a new bottle. Same ceremonial, he uncorks the bottle and smells the cork. And of course, the very same funny show: he removes the cork from the corkscrew with his bare and quickly passes it under my nose. «Pardon me», I say while I take the cork from his hand by using my table napkin. This time the cork seems to be right, the “head waiter” serves the wine and I believe that was the end of this episode. Food is nothing special, not bad but certainly not fancy, it is just the same you would get in so many restaurants. The final surprise is however in the bill. The wine is listed just once - 25 euros - while a dish I ordered once and sold at 10 euros, is listed twice. In other words, the corked bottle, paid about 5 euros by the restaurateurs, has been charged with a dish I did not order and costing twice that amount. Not only the restaurateurs did not want to lose the cost of the faulty bottle, he also wanted to make a profit of it. Dear sly restaurateurs and dear expert head waiter and retailer of wines, besides having behaved in a dishonest and ignoble way, I will not ever come to your place again and, don't worry about this, I will spread a very bad word about you and your restaurant whenever I can. And I did that already. What goes around comes around: I too, sometimes and my way, am “sly”.

Antonello Biancalana






   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 142, Summer 2015   
About Certain Restaurateurs Who Believe to Be SlyAbout Certain Restaurateurs Who Believe to Be Sly  Contents 
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