history. Many pouring etiquette rules began as homage to the female gender. But in this equal-pay-equal-work era, those niceties have petered out at most restaurants. In wine etiquette class in culinary school (true story), we learned to pour this way: Open the bottle, allow the person who ordered to taste; once accepted, pour the ladies at the table first, clockwise from the taster; then pour the men on the counter-clockwise trip, ending with the person who ordered the bottle. Bring some class to the table, people, even if you work at Applebees.
4. What am I, a moron?
When the restaurant runs out of a bottle, the sneaky server suggests a replacement that costs $20 more. Really? If you want to blatantly upcharge, be a little more creative; provide a reason why the fresh offering tastes superior with the food, my mood, whatever. Otherwise, bring back the wine list and grow some ethics.
3. Right temp, right service.
Some exalted whites improve with a little warmth, but most dont. Cheap wines especially, like bland beer, are best consumed icy cold. And red wines smack you with alcohol if theyve perched above the bar fridge for most of their shelf life. Perhaps bottle storage is a management call, but servers can still make a difference by paying attention to how cold or hot they feel. Red bottles at the right serving temperature, whether youre pouring by the glass or delivering the whole thing, should feel cool to the touch, and whites should be slightly sweaty on the outside.
2. Don't fill er up.
Good god, can you ease up with the glass filling? Swirl room aerates the juice and I look cool doing it. Yes, its Christmas when a generous wine-by-the-glass pour plops in front of me, but when serving from a bottle dont rush me to the bottom so fast. Its not helpful and it simply pisses people off. Fill it halfway, or two fingers from the top. Period.
1. Check it, dont sniff it.
Not sure why this cranks me up or where the silly tradition originated -- but cork-sniffing should be a punishable offense. Its useful to inspect the cork for mold or crusty crystals (indicating a possible flaw) but taking a reflective whiff will simply expose wine-scented tree bark. Ideally, a server should lay the stopper on the table to fight anyones urge to make an ass of themselves with their olfactory glands.
Achaval Ferrer 2008 Malbec Mendoza
Highly acclaimed winery. This malbec tastes so plush and fruity, youll think youre biting into a sweet cherry. Friendly tannins, gushing raspberry, blueberry, blackberry and a cigar box-scented finish. Generous and intense with some tart acidity but everything flows really well together. Sw=2. $22. 4.5 stars.
Skip It, Dont Tip It
Big House Pink 2008 (California)
Oh, how I long for the days when Randall Grahm ran this place. Incredible and affordable, Big House was go-to reliable. But as a recent swig of this rosé attests, those days are gone. Candy-sweet like a syrupy white zin, with misplaced earthiness and strong chemical flavors. Is that FD Red #5 I taste? $10.
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