Friday, May 01, 2009

"No one knows the list better than me"

I had to laugh, to keep from crying. The local restaurant critic revisited an old landmark restaurant that had been, in its day, the hallmark of dining and wine service. Sadly the place seems to be in its “old age” phase of its life. Reviewer Leslie Brenner in the Dallas Morning News wrote a tragically uproarious piece about the wine service. You should read the whole review, to get a feel for Ms. Brenner’s style. Folks have also chimed in on the Eats blog here (it has gotten pretty hairy). Her comments about the wine service, after the break:

We asked for the sommelier, told him what we had ordered and inquired about a Bordeaux: a Sociando Mallet 1997, for $45. I love Sociando Mallet but didn't know how '97 was. He didn't answer, just flipped a few pages back and pointed to a Spanish wine I'd never heard of, priced at $100.

"What region is it from?" I asked.

"Spain," he said.

"OK, but what region in Spain?"

"Spain."

"There are many regions in Spain," I reminded him. "Is it from Ribera? Rioja?"

"It's from Spain," he said.

"OK," I said. "We'd like to stay in France." I flipped back to the Sociando Mallet, asking him again about it.

"Médoc doesn't go with what you're having," he said. That was quite funny, as one of us had ordered a rib-eye steak – known in the Médoc as entrecôte, and paired famously with, you know, Médoc.

I gave up, though, and tried getting his opinion about a Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He didn't think they had it. So I asked him about a Guigal Hermitage that was listed under Burgundy. What year is it? I wondered.

"That's not a very good Burgundy," he said.

"It's not a Burgundy," I pointed out. "It's listed under Burgundy, but it's not a Burgundy; it's a northern Rhône."
He looked at me as if I were insane.

"Is there someone here who knows the wine list?" I asked him.

He laughed. "No one knows the list better than me," he said.

We settled on a 1995 Château Gloria Bordeaux, and before long, the food started coming.


Who's on First?

Many years ago, I called on a man by the name of Victor Wdowiak. At the time he was a wine buyer for a large retail chain, but he often took pity on this “young Turk” as he liked to call me. He knew wine well. He was very intimidating. But he was the real deal. And it was he who set up the original wine service at the restaurant that is now in the autumn of its years. Mr. Victor passed away a while back and it is probably better, for if he read this interchange he would most likely pass out and die from shame, exhaustion and sheer frustration that all his years of hard work, his legacy, has now been so perverted and misinterpreted.

Restaurants are struggling so much without having to endure these self inflicted wounds, some of them mortal. My experiences this week have shown me that we have a lot of work to do. Even with a lifetime of work, the legacy might not be so deeply etched, in the fields we have toiled all these years.



P.S. I promise to be more uplifting on the next post. It's not all doom and gloom. But it ain't exactly a walk in the park, either. But we shall overcome. Yes we can!



7 comments:

Do Bianchi said...

I loved Leslie's review. And we've ALL been in that situation, no?

The last time for me was at Ambasciata in Mantua...

in all fairness to the idiot wine steward: CdP is in Southern Rhone (even Guigal's winery is in the north, if I'm not mistaken)...

Alfonso Cevola said...

read again, fratello,


I gave up, though, and tried getting his opinion about a Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He didn't think they had it. So I asked him about a Guigal Hermitage that was listed under Burgundy. What year is it? I wondered.

"That's not a very good Burgundy," he said.

"It's not a Burgundy," I pointed out. "It's listed under Burgundy, but it's not a Burgundy; it's a northern Rhône."

Do Bianchi said...

oops, sawwy! I missed the Hermitage! Dr. Italy stands corrected!

beyond my lapsus, it's interesting to note that in fact, what he said was true: Hermitage is not good Burgundy. ;-)

sorry for the misreading... I remain a loyal Leslie fan!

Adam said...

I can't tell you how many times my dad looked over the wine list and said "This is all Sheeet, I'll have a Dos Equis..." He'd be glad you remembered him..

Adam Wdowiak - Dallas

Anonymous said...

My first lessons in wine were with Victor and Al Moulin, back when classes started and ended with France. Italy wasn't even on the radar. California was a footnote. I remember, Adam, after Victor told me of how he got to America from Poland via the merchant marine, he complained that you were "soft." I always wondered what that said about his expectations of his American son. Kim Pierce

Kevin Hamel said...

"...what he said was true: Hermitage is not good Burgundy. ;-)"

It is also amusing to note that it has been used to improve claret!

Amy Atwood said...

This post gave me a good laugh. Especially since I am in wine sales and have had the great fortune of trying to sell wine to some very similar characters.

Real Time Analytics