Have you ever been a little intimidated when the waiter pours you a splash of wine to taste for the table, at a well-to-do, fancy schmancy restaurant…a table full of your best clients…or a table filled with your most snarky colleagues who are observing your every movement with their eyes just above the lines of the stretched menus covering their faces… and you can almost hear them whisper with a German accent: “very eenteresteeng…” (How many remember that German soldier with the beady eyes, peering from behind a bush on that classic comedy show called Rowan & Martin`s Laugh In).
The pressure’s on…you know all about nose and flavours but no one tells you what to do with your hands. Should you swish and swirl and sniff, like the guys in the expensive suits at the table next to yours? Should you do the “verbal breakdance” and invoke the fact that your nose is detecting vanilla abstract notes and hints of…your uncle’s cigar box? (I’m serious) All this while the waiter-turned-Rambo stands there patiently…and smiles while thinking (with his inner voice): “you gotta be sh….me, right? How much do I care for this tip…?
The point of the table tasting, which always goes to the person ordering the wine, is not for you to prove your deep knowledge of wine. It is simply for you to tell the server that the wine in question has or hasn’t “gone off” while it was being stored. You know, like wine sometimes does by having a bad chemical interaction with its cork. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to tell that right away…for more on this, see my illustrious blog submission of December 5th, entitled “Waiter, WTF is in my wine glass…?
If the wine is tainted, don’t hold back and (especially) do not assume that because this is a fancy schmancy establishment and that the wine costs a small fortune, that it cannot possibly be “bad”…remember that as many as one in ten bottles served in restaurants are “bad”. One in ten!
Sitting in my favourite Italian restaurant just a few months ago with a few friends, I was able to hear something like this from the next table, where a young patron hesitantly addresses the waiter: “Yo, mister waiter, this wine has a strong taste, you know, I eh…think that it’s not so good. It tastes a little bit foul, you know, like a vinegary taste…” The waiter, looking a little disturbed and somewhat incensed replies; “ Sir, that was your Balsamic Vinegar container”.