Restaurant rant

Just spent 5 minutes and 23 second of my life which I will never be able to get back watching a Wine Spectator video on wine service in restaurants. The phrase ‘poncey crap’ does not go far enough to describing quite how horrible it was.

I’m not going to go into all of what was covered, but four points stuck out for me. Firstly, there was someone saying that if you don’t like the wine, you should send it back. Why? Would it be fair for restaurant for you to order sea bream and then send it back because you don’t like fish? Yes, if there’s something wrong with the bottle, you should ask for it to be replaced, but if you order something and don’t like it, why should it be the restaurant that has to pay? Secondly, there was nothing about serving temperatures. It’s one of the main wine crimes in restaurants – the whites seem to have come straight out of an igloo, while the reds are not much cooler than the soup. But no mention of this perennial problem on the WS vid. Thirdly, the thing about filling glasses up. The lady from the Gramercy Tavern in New York said that their policy was for the servers to fill the glasses as necessary, but I’m not convinced this is the best policy. Restaurants, please ask us what we’d like you to do. Otherwise you end up hovering over us and filling up the glasses of the fastest drinker, while others miss out.

Finally, there was the bit about the tip. ‘You would tip on wine as you would for the rest of the meal,’ said our host. Now this is where I get especially itchy. I’m OK with tipping the normal percentage (whatever that is) for a £50 bottle. But why should I give them twice as much for a £100 bottle – or ten times as much if I ever had enough dosh to fork out for a £500 bottle? Has it been treated ten times as well in the cellar? Was ten times as much care taken in pulling the cork? Do the glasses cost ten times more to clean? The mark-ups on wines in restaurants are hefty enough already without diners being expected to tip more on a bottle of wine than they’re paying for the food. OK, rant over, time for bed.

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