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:: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 ::

:: Server Stories: Wine List ::
One of the nice perks of working in the restaurant business is getting to sample various wines (and booze). One of the things that suck about working in the restaurant business is that you have to study the wines, sometimes without the benefits of tasting. I like drinking. I don't like studying.

However, if I'm forced to study something, wines and booze is about as good a subject as you can find. I love a good whiskey so studying up on that on my own time was entertaining. Antonio, the Floor Manager at my last job, knew this so he would let me occasionally try out various Scotches and Bourbons for my shift drink. At the Steakhouse, it's all about the wines. It's an Italian Steakhouse so we have huge selection of Italian reds. It's mostly Piedmont and Tuscan wines, though there are quite a few Amarones and Super Tuscans, with bottles ranging anywhere from $52 to $700.

I spent a lot of time studying our wines and since the new GM has pared down the list, it's been easier keeping up. The MILF and I try to pick a couple of mid and high-end wines to try to push while we stand around and wait for our first customer to come in. It's one way to keep it fun and we have a friendly little competition once in a while.

It's one of the reasons I've been among the top sellers and I'm don't mind using every trick in the book to make a sale. For example, we carry twelve different Pinot Noirs. Most are $50-$60, a couple of those are $82, and one that's $120. It's easy to sell a lot of the cheaper stuff but there's an excellent Pinot Noir from the Carneros Appelation (thanks for the tip, Joo) that I sell more than anyone. (I went through a case in two weeks once.) At $82 it's a hell of a wine and more often than not, I'm able to convince the customer to spend the extra $20 or so and give it a try. It's never been sent back.

The MILF prefers big reds like Cabernets and Brunellos so she doesn't bother too much lighter reds. She noticed I sell that bottle often and asked me if it's a good wine. I told her I read very good reviews. "What do you mean?"

"I've never actually tasted it."

Because of that every now and then I do walk away feeling a little dirty, and not in a good way. More like, a used car salesman sort of dirty. Our GM is pretty good about keeping up with the good seller so he's quite content to let me do my thing as long as I maintain my numbers. If there's ever a bottle that he wants to get rid of, he usually entrusts Rey, the MILF, or me to sell it. While it easy to recommend something I'm familiar with, every now and then I do get a customer asking for a recommendation for something expensive. I've done enough research that I can rattle off key adjectives like bold, lush, fruity, velvety and my favorite; "lots of complexity with layer upon layer of flavors." (It never occurred to me that those writing and marketing classes in art school would help me out in this fashion.) More often than not while I'm doing the presentation, I'm thinking "please like it, please like it, please don't send it back." So far, it's only happened once, but it was a mid-priced Merlot that we sold by the glass anyway.

Of course, I feel considerably less dirty when the managers let us take home a bottle of wine for our efforts. I already took home an Amarone. Last month, the MILF and I and worked a particularly thirsty party and got rid of some of the old inventory. As a reward, we both took home a Super Tuscan made from Syrah grapes. I still haven't opened that either, though she has and told me it's great. Or as she likes to say in her sexy Latin accent, "it's a beautiful wine. I looove it. "

I gotta tell you, the occasional free bottle of wine is something I could definitely get used to, especially when it's something I would (or could) never spend my own money on. Even if it's a crappy White Zinfandel that the manager gave away to the staff so he could take it off the menu.

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 7:07 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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