I went out with a young lady to a wine bar last night. I have been to this place once before and my experience was quite good. Despite this bar’s attempt to be “hip” and serve their wines in stemless glasses, my request for proper stemware has been granted on both visits to the location.
But that is NOT what stood out most about last night. Upon our arrival we were seated by a very warm and friendly young woman. I asked my date what type of wines she was interested in, and she responded “sweet” (shocker!). I chose to interpret sweet as “fruity” and explained as much to our server. She suggested Pinot. I told her that new world Pinot is generally too “artificially sweet” tasting to me. And she offered to bring some taste’s of old world Pinot’s. We happily accepted. She brought an Italian Pinot and a French Bourgogne. My date liked the bourgogne (which was quite fruity) while I preferred the Italian Pinot which I found to be more elegant & earthy.
But since we were considering a bottle, we remained undecided. At which point IT happened. The sommelier came over. My last time at this bar I was helped out by a very sweet and un-intimidating female sommelier. Last night was another story altogether. The sommelier did not smile once. He was pushy (or at least it felt that way), cold and suggested we “try” a unique Italian varietal which he believed fit the description of what we were looking for. I apparently misunderstood his use of the word “try” and thougt he was offering us another taste. Instead he came over with a new bottle which he presented. I stopped him before he opened it (thankfully) and told him that I must have misunderstood – I thought he was going to allow us to TRY it before choosing it. Again, icy cold – NO. At which point I told him that we would like to taste our wine before ordering a bottle. He reluctantly brought over a Sangiovese for us to try. While I was not thrilled with his demeaner, the wine pleased both my date and I and we ordered a bottle.
But boy did we have plenty to talk about. I was MAD. Mad that guys like this are keeping genuinely interested people from feeling more comfortable about wine. It is guys like this who perpetuate the intimidation of the industry and have people instead choosing spirits or beer over wine – fearing that their lack of knowledge combined with people like that are going to make them feel stupid.
OK, deep breath Wine Tasting Guy. He is not worth getting so worked up about. But it is just really frustrating. Not to mention that it is simply bad business. Oh well. Live and learn. I did end up expressing my frustration to the owner so I suppose we will see what happens.
But the point I am making is that while there is A LOT to know & learn about wine, it should be fun, not intimidating, exciting, not overwhelming and the experts should be warm and graceful not cold and pretentious.
On this snowy NY friday I wish you all a WARM & TASTY weekend!