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Robert Reynolds

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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Robert Reynolds » Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:58 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:especially given the prices that are paid for wine in restaurants.

This really is, for me, the telling point. I rarely order alcohol when dining out anymore, and usually it is a domestic beer. Wine is saved for special occasions, due entirely to the markup. So when I do order it, I expect the pourer to have a reasonable understanding of what he/she is doing with the bottle!
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Bill Hooper » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:02 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Wine service is a 'thing' with me. I long ago got sick of waiters hovering around wanting to pour the wine, usually so they can sell you another bottle when this sort of thing happens..

I now tell them to uncork it, put it on the table and then leave it alone, that I will pour it myself. I had one restaurant tell me it was illegal for them to do that (it isn't). I told him he'd better stick the cork back in it as I wasn't paying for it in that case. It took the maitre d' to sort that one out and tell the waiter he was in error.

Down with the tyranny of waiters!


Waiters in good (and virtually all 2 star and above) restaurants are trained to be johnny on the spot when your glass is nearing completion. I don't find it intrusive, as it's part of the deal -I'm paying to be pampered. If I don't want to drink more wine, I don't order more.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Bill Spohn » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:08 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:Waiters in good (and virtually all 2 star and above) restaurants are trained to be johnny on the spot when your glass is nearing completion. I don't find it intrusive, as it's part of the deal -I'm paying to be pampered. If I don't want to drink more wine, I don't order more.


Waiters in good restaurants take orderes when you give them. If that includes "Hans off the bottle" that's what they should do. Amazing how many operate on autoplot and keep grabbing your bottle without thinking.

We almost always have a range of drinkers all the way from designated driver to passenger that enjoys wine. They don't know this and insist on topping up everyone, with the result that some end up leaving wine and some don't get as much as they'd have liked. Having that happen isn't being pampered, in my book, it is being annoyed. I will drink my wine when I want to and as much as I want to, and until they come out with a breed of telepathic waiters, they can all keep their bloody hands to themselves!
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Bill Hooper » Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:30 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:We almost always have a range of drinkers all the way from designated driver to passenger that enjoys wine. They don't know this and insist on topping up everyone, with the result that some end up leaving wine and some don't get as much as they'd have liked. Having that happen isn't being pampered, in my book, it is being annoyed.


Bill, You're right. I was going to include a caveat in my response that mirrored that situation. In large groups with drivers (or just diners who don't want a particular wine -a Spanish Traminer comes to mind for me), this is indeed annoying. I've had to bark at an Insistent waiter or two who was certainly trying to get another bottle on the bill.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by John S » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:40 pm

The first mistake was dining out in White Rock!! :wink:
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Dale Williams » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:42 pm

I would just pour 3-4 ounces from my glass into the glass of the person who was shorted, and say to waitress "that's a proper pour", and then equal out glasses. Not ideal experience, but hopefully she'll learn.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Robert J. » Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:00 pm

Bernard Roth wrote:After the first glass was being filled, the diners should have seen what was coming. They have a responsibility to themselves that outweighs deference to the server. They should have stopped the server during the first pour and directed the proper amount per glass. Since they let this go on for 3 glasses, they got what they deserved.


Bullshit. The server has the responsibility of knowing how to pour. The management has the responsibility of training the server. The customer is ALWAYS right.

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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Robert J. » Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:04 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:
Jenise wrote:My friends surmised that it was her first day on the job with zero training, but they didn't get that confirmed.

This sounds like the sort of situation where forgiveness might be called for.


If this were the case then she should have been shadowing another server. Poor management would let a server hit the floor on their first day with zero training, no matter their experience in the industry.

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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Nathan Smyth » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:57 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:I'm paying to be pampered.

I can't stand being pampered - it makes my skin crawl.

Bring me the wine, and then get the hell out of my sight and leave me alone.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Nathan Smyth » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:07 pm

Robert J. wrote:Bullshit. The server has the responsibility of knowing how to pour. The management has the responsibility of training the server. The customer is ALWAYS right.

rwj

Yeah, but suppose the "server" is some poor girl with an IQ of 95 [if that], who's just been left holding the bag by her third husband [assuming he doesn't violate the restraining order and come around one night and beat the living shit out of her - cf OJ Simpson] - some girl who doesn't know wine from Everclear - and who doesn't know how she's going to support her children if she gets fired from this waitressing job because she sure isn't getting any child support payments from any of her ex's.

I mean, come on, we don't all have advanced degrees from Ivy League institutions.

There are people out there who go home at night and sleep on the other side of the tracks.

PS: If "management" is throwing people out there untrained, then it's management's fault.

Unless, of course, management's situation isn't a whole lot better than the waitress's.

Cf Idiocracy.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Robert J. » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:57 pm

I haven't met too many people in my line of work (you got it, food service) who do have advanced degrees from the Ivy Leagues. I find, in fact, that those are the people we are waiting on. I do, however, find many educated and intelligent people who are passionate about what they do (although not from an Ivy League I do have a college education from a nationally recognized school). I have met all manner of people in my line of work, even the sort that you so horribly and stereotypically characterize in your response. Some of them work harder than others and it is difficult to predict how it will turn out.

I have worked with children of very affluent parents who just couldn't get it. Though they had eaten at fine dining establishments all their lives they just couldn't understand how to actually run the other side of the table. In contrast, the best back-waiter I ever had was a man named Fidel who spoke little to no English and went home each night to the "other side of the tracks". I speak little to no Spanish and we communicated almost entirely by eye. Often I would ask him to do something (mas agua a mesa 13, por favor) and he would have already done it. I would be running into the waiter's station to tell him that table 5 needed more bread and wine. He would be loading up a bread basket and I would ask, "Mesa 5?" to which he would reply, "Si.". I could trust him to do ANYTHING for my tables, even to pour the wine.

When management threatened to fire Fidel because of his lack of English, I threatened to quit. Fidel stayed on as management did not want to lose their head waiter and wine steward. That night I gave Fidel a ride home and told him what had happened. He directed me to a little trailer set up near his apartment complex. We walked up to the trailer and he ordered "dos especiales" and I sat down on the sidewalk with him and ate five of some of the best damn tacos al pastor I have ever eaten. Although I made almost $800 that night he refused to let me pick up the $5 tab.

If you had read both of my responses then you would have noticed that I think the fault of this whole fiasco lies squarely on the shoulders of the management. Most problems in restaurants do lie here (or the owner's shoulders). We agree on that. But your characterizations here are grossly misplaced.

And be aware that there may be people on this forum "who go home at night and sleep on the other side of the tracks". Ours is not a financially rewarding career. We do it because we love food and wine and we love to share that food and wine with others. Even when total assholes came into my dining room I trained my staff to give them the best.

rwj

P.s. And if management's situation is not a whole lot better than that waitresses of yours then I seriously doubt that management will be running one of the hippest and chic-est spots in town.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by OW Holmes » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:12 pm

It sounds like an innocent error born of lack of training by the proprieter. I would pour the fourth person from my yet untouched glass, and ask the waitress if she is new here, and gently suggest smaller pours, assuming she got it all poured before I noticed.
Can I top it? Sure, but I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan - and we expect our waiters and waitresses to be - at best - only about half educated about serving wine, and we aren't that fussy anyway. We take it as "same old, same old" and laugh it off, unless of course the wine server attempts some snobby response suggesting he knows what he's talking about and we don't. Like "This wine is meant to be served at this (80+ degree) temperature - it brings out the flavor" or "No sir, its not corked. The cork came out in one piece." Both, within the last year.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Jenise » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:43 pm

John - Santa Clara wrote:AAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

I've never actually been to White Rock, though I've seen it from Blaine. :lol:
The "hippest restaurant in White Rock" is probably hipper than Blaine's hippest, yet I don't think I'd expect quite such a Parisian level of ineptitude.


You've actually been to Blaine? Why on earth were you ever here, just driving through the border? You surely weren't here to visit, Blaine's not just sleepy, it's dead. (I don't live in Blaine, but lacking a post office I have a Blaine address.) Things are much different on the other side of the border--White Rock is quite vibrant, it's Western Canada's Laguna Beach. Lots of restaurants, and this restaurant is the best of them by a longshot. Great ambience, modern/inventive food, and a single malt scotch bar.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by John Treder » Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:46 pm

>> You've actually been to Blaine?

Yep. My nephew, his wife, their ward, a couple of relatives, a horse, two goats, a donkey, a dog, and some old cars live on Blaine Road a couple of miles south of town.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Steve Slatcher » Tue Jan 29, 2008 7:15 am

I've also had waiters who had obviously been trained never to empty a bottle, presumably to avoid customer embarrassment. So as the meal progressed the pours got smaller and smaller until it was just a few drops in each glass. That was a little irritating too. I can't remember how the situation bottomed out, but I presumably had to tell them excplicitly to empty the bottle.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Jenise » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:19 pm

John - Santa Clara wrote:>> You've actually been to Blaine?

Yep. My nephew, his wife, their ward, a couple of relatives, a horse, two goats, a donkey, a dog, and some old cars live on Blaine Road a couple of miles south of town.


That would describe most of the inhabitants of Blaine Road!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Bill Spohn » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:27 pm

Jenise wrote:That would describe most of the inhabitants of Blaine Road!


Damn - I'll bet some of them even have some of those Calcutta specials parked outside - what do they call them again....oh yeah, Jaguars! :twisted:
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Jenise » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:43 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
Jenise wrote:That would describe most of the inhabitants of Blaine Road!


Damn - I'll bet some of them even have some of those Calcutta specials parked outside - what do they call them again....oh yeah, Jaguars! :twisted:


Come on, every self-respecting raja has one. Just like parts of Surrey. :) And who are you to make fun of cars in the yard, hmm?
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Bill Spohn » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:59 pm

Jenise wrote:Come on, every self-respecting raja has one. Just like parts of Surrey. :) And who are you to make fun of cars in the yard, hmm?


I'm not sure that when somone tells you the neighbour has nice Tatas, this is what you'd expect (the 2009 Jaguar):

Image
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Jenise » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:24 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:I'm not sure that when somone tells you the neighbour has nice Tatas, this is what you'd expect (the 2009 Jaguar):

Image


Don't you have one of those in your yard? Your "Sunday-go-to-meeting" car?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by wrcstl » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:50 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
Bill Hooper wrote:Waiters in good (and virtually all 2 star and above) restaurants are trained to be johnny on the spot when your glass is nearing completion. I don't find it intrusive, as it's part of the deal -I'm paying to be pampered. If I don't want to drink more wine, I don't order more.


Waiters in good restaurants take orderes when you give them. If that includes "Hans off the bottle" that's what they should do. Amazing how many operate on autoplot and keep grabbing your bottle without thinking.

We almost always have a range of drinkers all the way from designated driver to passenger that enjoys wine. They don't know this and insist on topping up everyone, with the result that some end up leaving wine and some don't get as much as they'd have liked. Having that happen isn't being pampered, in my book, it is being annoyed. I will drink my wine when I want to and as much as I want to, and until they come out with a breed of telepathic waiters, they can all keep their bloody hands to themselves!


Have to come down hard on agreement with Bill Spohn. "Autopilot" is a good description of most wine service. I tell them politely that we will pour our wines and they do not have to worry about it. "Autopilot" is so strong that sometimes they still try to pour and then I get a little firmer.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Bill Spohn » Tue Jan 29, 2008 2:07 pm

wrcstl wrote:Have to come down hard on agreement with Bill Spohn. "Autopilot" is a good description of most wine service. I tell them politely that we will pour our wines and they do not have to worry about it. "Autopilot" is so strong that sometimes they still try to pour and then I get a little firmer.
Walt


I frankly think it amounts to the jerk reaction of a pithed frog when you hit it with DC current, with some waiters.

I actually had one guy that I told twice to leave the GD bottle alone, and finally said "If you don't listen to what I tell you and touch that bottle one more time, there goes any hope of a tip". You guessed it, he tried to pour again.....Image
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Max Hauser

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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Max Hauser » Tue Jan 29, 2008 2:20 pm

Dale Williams wrote:I would just pour 3-4 ounces from my glass into the glass of the person who was shorted, and say to waitress "that's a proper pour", and then equal out glasses. Not ideal experience, but hopefully she'll learn.

Basically I'm with Dale. It's very obviously poor (or no) wine training, therefore poor management, and I've had similar experiences. If there be any here who never made a clueless error, let you sling the first stone.

Otherwise I'd just go with the flow, unruffled, and try to make it positive by example (as Dale suggested), and gently; or at least take it in relaxed good humor ("now don't hold back, there!"). To give the server any kind of hard time is (to quote a famous medical text, on the subject of laxatives) neither kind nor useful.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

by Max Hauser » Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:25 pm

By the way, I might even be able to top that incident. I posted this elsewhere years ago. It's remarkable because senior sommeliers are responsible, not untrained raw servers.

I first saw it in San Francisco around 1999. A group of experienced Burgundy fans (in and out of the trade) met for dinner at a fine restaurant with a high-profile (Master) sommelier (with bowtie) who despite cordial general help (he also cordially knew some of the diners already), refused to decant a magnum of 1985 Clos de Tart as requested. Its owner, who brought the bottle to the restaurant and requested the decanting, knew what he was doing (he's a Burgundy expert with longer experience than the somm, and a larger collection than most restaurants).

When challenged on this detail, somm asserted that one must not decant Burgundy that has some age. (Comment: Some people, who've actually enjoyed it longer than he has, find Pinot Noir wines sensitive to sediment, and not badly affected by decanting shortly before service, which removes the sediment. That's why they decant.)

Same thing happened in New York at a very respected restaurant where sommelier refused to decant 1985 Roumier Bonnes Mares for an importer I know who has comprehensive Burgundy experience, and also had spent serious money ordering the bottle. Then it recurred in the same restaurant with another magnum of the Roumier, and the person who ordered it challenged the sommelier, who claimed to know better. "I'm Roumier," the guest then explained; he knew the wine certainly pretty well. In each case, the customers had considerable experience and knew what they were about.

It caused speculation: Was some Sommeliers Advisory circulating by telex? Did these service professionals meet in a smoke-filled room and plan out dogma to force on customers?? What about the less experienced diner, who happens to know something about wine, but might be intimidated by such attitude?

It was bizarre, and I don't think I've ever gotten a clear explanation.
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