Are You THAT Person When Ordering Wine?

Nice tattoo.

Seriously, though. I like you. I want you to be happy. And I want you to be cool.

One reason that I don't mind carrying globally-dominant varietals on a by-the-glass list instead of entirely obscure Slovenian™ varietals is because if I can find a pinot grigio that's really well-made by a dedicated group of people who care and tells a great story, I feel good about bringing it out to the table that just ordered it because it was pinot grigio and it was the only thing they recognized.

I don't resent them for ordering pinot gris for the sake of staying in their comfort zone, because I think the wine is cool.

To me, it's one of the key tenets of running a great wine program: set your customers up for success.

And as the wine curator, set yourself up to admire the wine they choose. If, they didn't allow you to choose it for them, of course. It makes it easier to give them great, intimate, and compassionate service if you like they wine they're drinking. Because, automatically, they now have great taste in your eyes. And once they see how amazing and incredible the pinot grigio you chose is, they'll automatically be more open-minded to other recommendations. Don't kill the gateway wine.

Too often, wine lists have these "groaner" wines on them. It's that wine that sommeliers and servers see being ordered, and then they literally roll their eyes and moan because they know the kind of table they're in for. Some restaurant owners have argued that they have to have those wines on their list because they drive so much profit. We'll stop short of denying or confirming such statements, but these wines do the opposite of endear customers to the waitstaff.

I am not saying that it's right or wrong, it's just what happens. A lot.

I am totally guilty of these groans, moans, and eye-rolls. Not gonna lie.

When the sommelier and staff are genuinely in love with all of the wines on their list, which hopefully covers an appropriate range to suit a wide variety of less-trained and more-trained palates, it makes it easier for them to love their guests because their guests are incapable of making a bad decision or a decision that demonstrates either ignorance, honest or blatant, or pure puntership.

Puntership. You can slot that right into Merriam-Webster. Put it in the "P" section.

Except, sometimes, even when a little hotspot has all their bases covered in terms of their wine list, you-know-who walks in and asks for J. Lohr.

Or Kim Crawford.

Or Caymus.

Or Oyster Bay.

Or Cakebread.

Or Mer-Soleil.

Or Meiomi.

Or Matua.

Or Liberty School.

Or Santa Margherita.

Or Gnarly Head.

Or Sutter Home.

Or Louis Latour.

And it goes on. And on. And on.

And how do we feel about this person? What statement is being made here other than something akin to, "I don't want to try any of the wines on your list, so maybe I'll see if you have something else that you don't have."

Or maybe it's, "I don't know how to pronounce anything on this list but you know, I know my wines, and I don't need your help because I feel threatened that you'll make me look like less of domineering clown, so I'll scoff at you for not having my favourite wine on your list."

You sound like a certain POTUS.

Potentially, it's "I expect the wine to taste like the only wine I ever drink, I expect the food to taste like all the food that I eat regularly, and I expect to pay nothing more than the cost of the actual items for these things to be served to me. And leaving a tip is at my sole discretion, so pucker up." Asshole.

Maybe it's just:

"I'm scared."

Allow me to recommend a good therapist before recommending the qvevri-aged müller-thurgau.

I believe that a restaurant should try to do a good job on the food that they set out to prepare. Yes, that can include Wonder™Bread & Kraft™Singles grilled-cheese sandwiches, which can indeed be executed perfectly in addition to a wider variety of questionable executions.

I believe that a restaurant should try to uphold their own standards of service, whatever those may be.

And I believe that a guest should understand that they are consensually showing up to pay for, in full, not the service they are hoping for, but whatever that restaurant might be offering, for better or for worse.

Hey, sometimes those fake lululemons™ fall apart, and we just gotta move on. You didn't have to buy them.

So, what I am imploring you to do here is to appeal to the restaurant's sense of human nature. If you want great service, ask a great question. Be interested. Great service people love nothing more than to demonstrate their knowledge in the hope that it will not only excite you and entice you to make a difficult decision amongst a tragedy of riches, but that the execution of such a pitch will exceed the expectations that they plant for you.

Great service people also know how to play it curt, professional, and even appropriately cold and clinical when they get the sense that the two-top in the corner came in to pay for the opportunity to make unreasonable demands instead of for the dining experience that the restaurant is offering.

If you want that great night, let the restaurant give you the experience that they built their establishment in order to give you.

Don't ask for the experience that they aren't set up to create just because you can't open your mind.

Make it about them, and they'll feel infinitely better about making it about you.

It's human nature.

Take a breath, observe your surroundings, and sink in to the atmosphere around you.

You can thank me later.

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