Monday, October 08, 2007

On Refilling

Thanks for the rousing welcome from AE, though I disagree that my perspective is more wordly than his. Indeed, I have never met any more adventurous souls when it comes to food and drink than he.

In the best spirit of Peter Griffin, we could well subtitle this post "You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?" Actually, as I am quite the grump, perhaps that could well subtitle most of my posts here . . .

In any case, what is grinding my gears at present is the unbelievably annoying habit even accomplished servers have of pouring wine into a wine glass that already contains wine I have been drinking. This is irksome for a variety of reasons.

First and most important, that wine has my freaking backwash contained in it. Naturally, that is hardly going to prevent me from quaffing the remaining contents of the glass, but hopefully one can see why I might prefer not to have the comparatively pure contents of the bottle mixed with the amalgam of wine and saliva contained in the glass. Even if this doesn't change the flavor of the next glass, it is unappealing and detracts from the hedonic experience itself. Wine is not coffee to be topped off (BTW, I love coffee).

Second, I'm not stupid. I know darn well that restaurants earn most of their money on alcohol, and that the restaurant therefore wants to encourage me to drink up in the hopes that my sadness at finishing the bottle will impel me to order more wine. Being a natural contrarian, this immediately makes me resistant to doing anything of the sort. I am (no longer) a fraternity brother. I like to savor my wine, to see how it unfolds into and with the foods I have selected. I cannot stand feeling rushed or pressured. I am quite capable, astonishingly, of deciding if and when I want another glass of wine.

Third, when a server refills a wine glass that already contains wine, they often fill it close to the brim (again, to encourage further expense). This is maddening, as it prevents me from swirling the wine to aerate it, which unquestionably affects the palate, especially for red wines. Alternatively, I can slosh the wine all over the tablecloth. As my wife and friends know, I really do not need any help in spilling food and drink; I am quite proficient at it without the server's assistance.

I know some claim that the refilling is an important part of wine service, but I find it maddening. At the very least, if the server is going to refill the wine glass, wait until it is empty. Unfortunately, this habit seems widespread all over Houston, including at some of the finer restaurants in town. This has happened to me at Da Marco, though, as AE points out, Da Marco is not necessarily known for its fine wine service. Just last week, I went to eat at Cafe Rabelais, a delightful French restaurant with marvelous food, a cozy interior, and a terrific all-French wine list with a lovely mixture of low and high price-point wines. The server, however, refilled my wine glass when it was 1/3 full, before I could object. I proceeded to move the wine bottle to a protected location on the table, and zealously guarded it whenever the server came by, which I think seemed to frighten or confuse her.

Better that than drinking my own backwash. Gross.


Anonymous said...

Hi E, I am looking forward to your posts.

I have found the only way to prevent this travesty is to gently but firmly tell the waiter you will pour out your own wine. Of course, if the wine is sitting in an ice bucket out of reach that is a problem.

Anonymous said...

I understand your concern with waiters pushing your limits of wine-li-ness but expecting them to pour wines only when the glass is empty just isn't going to happen unless you have a waiter that's neglecting you. Why? Because any manager worth their salt is taught, has been taught, and will forever teach that if a customer need to pour their own wine, then you aren't doing your job. That means waiters normally wait (or at least they should) until you have two or one sips left in the glass to pour. Pouring to the brim is unacceptable, as glasses should be poured up the the 1/3rd point anyways, so I get your scruff there. I'll be certain to bet if you tell a waiter that you'd like to pour your own wine, they'd love to have that burden off their backs and you with your wine not on the tablecloth.

Anyways, just a suggestion

Anonymous said...

try not spitting in your wine glass