:: Life on Planet Dan-E ::

Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Thursday, April 27, 2006 ::

:: Server Tales Part II - Wine Snobs ::
Unless you've been holed up in a cave, or been going to AA meetings, you've seen the movie "Sideways." It probably made you want to try your hand at becoming an oenophile or at least, drink more. I'm sure you might have also read that sales of Pinot Noir spiked and Merlot dropped because of that movie. I always thought it was a retail phenomenon until the other night at my restaurant (and unlike my last "Server Tale," this actually happened):

I was going through my specials spiel to a four-top consisting of yuppy types, two guys and two girls, who obviously trying a little too hard to fit in with the South Beach "hip" or "cool" image. I get to our first wine special. "If you're interested in a bottle of wine, we have a very good Merlot from Chile..."

"Oh, we don't drink Merlot." interrupts the girl wearing too much eyeshadow. Ok, maybe they like white wines. Or perhaps they've yet to graduate past White Zinfandel.

"We also have a Chardonn..."

"Haven't you ever seen the movie 'Sideways?'"

It's been a while and I'm wondering where this is going. "I have."

"Well, you should know it's all about the Pinot" says the guy wearing a long sleeve black shirt and a beanie - on a day where the high was 86 - in a snooty manner.

It took a moment but it finally clicked. "You're kidding, right? I mean, you're really going to revolve your entire dining life around some goddamn movie that came out over a year ago? Are you fucking kidding me?"

That's what I was thinking anyway. I had a long day already and it was only 7:00. It was a muggy weekday so that was only my second table that night. The first table was a nice but niggardly couple from London and now I have to deal with this shit?

"Well in that case we have quite a few fine Pinots available," was my actual reply.

They go check the wine list. Beanie points to a selection and asks "is this a good Pinot Noir?" He pronounces it "norr." I look. Not surprisingly, it's the most expensive one. Which is good. Except he's pointing at a Pinot Grigio.

"Sir," I lean in and whisper, trying not to make him look bad in front of his posse. "That's a Pinot Grigio. The red wines are on the bottom half."

From the look on his face, you'd thing I just killed his puppy. Or, more appropriately, stepped on his Prada sunglasses. Trying (and failing) to save her companion's dignity (and thereby losing hers) Eyeshadow girl pipes in with "but in the movie, Miles (the name of the character. Apparently.) says that Pinots (in her huff, she says "pee-notes") can be white too."

Beanie turns his head and looks up at me with a "yeah, bitch!" look.

I'm being rebutted with movie quotes from character who was a borderline alcoholic. "Yes, but your friend asked for a Pinot Noir (I may have overemphasized the "Noir.") and the one he wants is a Pinot Grigio."

The best comeback he could muster was "I never said I wanted it. I just asked if it's good."

My normally long-burning fuse attached to my temper is sparking furiously. I've been there since 10:30 in the morning only to endure another depressingly slow lunch where I make $17. My knee hurts from tennis the day before and I lost my hair tie so my hair is up with a rubber band. (If you ever had long hair, you know how much that sucks.) I straighten up, lower my notepad, and give him my Server Stink-Eye (it's a look where my face is completely impassive, but my eyes, while staring in your direction, is actually focused on something behind you. It can be disconcerting.) "Then which bottle of wine can I get for you?"

Sensing a need for urgency, he browses through the selection. The other guy is studying the menu, while the other girl chats away on her cell phone oblivious to everything else around her. In reality, it couldn't have taken more than 12 seconds for Beanie to pick one but for me, time seemed to slow down to a point where I could almost see evolution happening. I half expect to turn around and see my section suddenly filled with mutants whose hands can morph into silverware and can order telepathically. (Or maybe I'm just overly excited about "X-Men 3.") He points to one (it was a Beaulieu Vineyard, and I really wanted to hear him try to stumble through "Beaulieu"). I smile, nod, head to the bar while imagining the following day's headline about a "Server goes Postal," and return with their bottle.

I open it with a nice "pop" and pour Beanie a sample serving in his glass. He's about to sip it when Eyeshadow girl suddenly says "Hey wait!"

My face was still impassive but my head suddenly filled with panic senarios: What's she going to bitch about now? Is the glass dirty? Did I grab the wrong bottle? Is there a hair in it? A fly? Good Gawd am I going to have to summon the manager in order to placate these assholes?! Do I have to give these assholes something for free?!?

"You didn't show me the cork."

I clearly remember being relieved that the pepper mill is not within arm's reach because I'm pretty sure I would have used it to beat her head into a pulp.

Since many wine companies are now using plastic and rubber corks and even screw tops, the practice of presenting the cork is archaic and unnecessary. But instead of wasting my breath by trying to explain that to her, I simply unscrew the cork from my wine key and set it in the middle of the table.

She picks it up and sniffs it. "It's fine," she declares haughtily.

There are so many unusable insults flying through my brain that my head actually starts to hurt.

"Very good ma'am," I say and I pour everyone a glass.

Their dinner order is routine - apparently, no one ever said in a movie "I am not eating any goddamn trout! - and once they came down from their flights of fancy, they turn out to a fairly low-maintenance group. They even tip me 15%.

The rest of the night is uneventful. I end up taking home some decent money thanks to a couple of tables that like steaks and premium vodkas but it was still a long day and a drink would be nice. When I walk out of my bathroom, I notice the two bottles of wine in my pantry.

I let out a groan and grab a beer from the fridge.

:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 5:52 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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