Wednesday, October 20, 2010

But...Where's the Wood?

: I want a glass of wine, but I don't know any of these.

Me: What do you normally like to drink, even though I know you are going to say "Oaky Cab Sauvs"?

: Oaky Cab Sauvs.


: ...

Me: We don't have one of those. But try this (pouring a taste of Carneros Pinot Noir and a Valpolicella Ripasso). The first one has the style you want, but the second has the weight.


Me: Okay, try this. I normally don't go in for Mendoza Malbec, but this one is really balanced. It won't be oaky but it is stylistically and weight-wise the closest thing you're going to get to what you normally like. And hey, why not try something new?

: Hunh....mmmm....ssssooo confuuuused....must...have...oak!

Me: Or let's do something totally different but that you'll love: a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. It's like cocoa-dusted raspberries and—

: Raspberries?!?! In WINE?!

: You do know wine is made from grapes, right?

: I'd never think of raspberries and wine...or cocoa...and WINE?

Me: There's a lot of fruit to smell in wine when there isn't a whole forest of oak to mask it.

: But oaky wines are always the most expensive.

Me: Yes! You've hit upon something that's very controversial in the wine industry. It's the effort on the part of winemakers to please Robert Parker and his peers, a bizarre oligarchy of mouths that only respond to oak, plum, coffee, chocolate, smoke, and—provided there's enough of the stuff I just mentioned—tobacco. So any wine forcibly made to taste like these things get higher points and higher prices.

: (Pointing to a funky, poopy-licious biodynamic Rhône Syrah on the menu). I'll just have the Syrah. Is that like a Shiraz?

: Yes. Yes it is.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And Please Don't Do This, Either

There's this new one I get all the time, and - surprise! - it really pisses me off.
It's this: How come you know so much about wine?

I get this from probably 1-2 guests per night, or 4-6 per week. It's like a UTI that just won't clear up. You start to feel relaxed again, the wincing pain in the vajayzer has begun to subside and then - WHAMMO. How come you know so much about wine?

Lists calm me down, so here's a list of Reasons This Makes Me Crazy:

1) I don't know so much about wine. You just know that little. And that's okay, but what you are implying by How Come...? is that I shouldn't know something you don't, OR that wine is a subject upon which you think you should be an expert, and therefore, it's bewildering that you aren't, even though you read Wine Spectator in your podiatrist's office.

2) Because it's my job, dumbass. What do you do for a living? Well gosh, I hope you know some shit about it.

3) Because I give a care. I realize that in this town, most servers are stoned, hungover, or between 12-step meetings, but I do it because I stupidly believe in the restaurant I work for, and I stupidly believe I can change someone's life by getting them to drink Lagrein from Alto Adige instead of California Merlot. Stupid stupid stupid.

4) If you walk into a nice-looking restaurant with a "challenging" menu that changes daily and a wine list full of names you've never heard of, chances are, you're not at a fucking Burger King. Are you really surprised that the server knows "so much about wine"? How about the fact that they know the steak is dry-aged, the difference between a rabbit rillette and rabbit confit, and where the oysters are from? Is that shocking to you?

5) Oh yeah, stop asking me "REAL RABBIT?" as if that's the craziest thing you've ever heard of. Well, it probably is if you eat at Burger King all the time.

6) Every single person who asks me why I know so much about wine totally ignores my advice anyway. Then they ask me a series of even dumber questions designed to give them a chance to participate, like "What's your favorite? Mine's La Crema;" or "I bet you're a red girl, huh?" Shut up and drink what I told you to get and let's have a conversation about that instead. It's going to be much more interesting than whatever brilliant gem you gleaned from the latest mid-rate freelancer's article in GQ.
<-- Is totes down with Lagrein. "It's so plummy but not overly extracted, and the long, lean, herbal finish is tits!"

The long story is: I "know so much about wine" because I have an obsessive-compulsive attraction to things that can be classified. I also have been with a sommelier for the last 4 years who is a walking encyclopedia of wine, so I made him teach me everything he knows. But I did all this because I love to learn and because I use it in my profession, and want one to benefit from the other. And if you're going to do anything - stuff envelopes, catch fish, sell wine, make wine - go big or go home.

So quit asking me stupid questions, dispense with your weird hang ups and insecurity issues and drink the "weird" Lagrein. You'll thank me one day.