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What a tremendous pleasure it is to write again! The urge to kill is being slowly diminished as the whiskey washes over me, and my love for you, my readers, grows with each sip.
This time, my vitriol and anger is directly aimed at those amateurs who have no idea how to cork a bottle of wine properly, yet expect a tip on said bottle. How about I get a my wine without capsule or cork particles first? Is that too much to ask?
About a week ago, I made a horrendous decision. I thought it would be OK to eat at Acqua Pazza, and I was horribly mistaken. How can they get away with so SHAMELESSLY serving this pig slop? Not only did the sauce on my pork chop taste like a seven year old made it out of simple syrup and corn starch, but my vegetables appeared to have been sitting on the plate since 1998. Limp and flavorless, they had the character of a retiree with a ponytail - at first you're saying to yourself "what the fuck?" and then, much more outraged a moment later, "WHAT THE FUCK?"
I digress. Let's get back to the wine selection and the ignoramus serving it.
First of all, the wine list looks like it was compiled by a child randomly choosing wines based on the color of the label. THERE ARE NO VINTAGES DENOTED ON THIS LIST. Oh yeah, no big deal. WHY DON'T YOU JUST BRING OUT THE CARLO ROSSI? I can only assume this is done so the brilliant genius buying the wine doesn't have to update the list when a vintage changes, you know HOW HARD IT CAN BE TO CHANGE A DIGIT ON A LIST. I'm sure it would take this particular wine buyer weeks to realize his/her continually compounding failures.
You'll imagine my delight when I saw a bottle of Clos Du Val Cabernet Sauvignon lumped in with the Simi and the Ravenswood. I politely inquired what the vintage on the wine was, of course my knowledgeable, resourceful waiter said I DON'T KNOW. He then shrugged his shoulders in such a way that I briefly envisioned myself cramming the list tightly down his esophagus while powerstabbing my fork into each of his bulging eyeballs. In spite of his clueless demeanor and the EVER PRESENT URGE TO KILL, I restrained myself and waited until he returned with the bold proclamation - "Uh, it's a 2007"
Now, I'm not picky. Really. I'm a firm believer that you get what you pay for, and $20 for a three course meal does not inspire visions of grandeur, so I was prepared to suffer some lapses in service and food quality.
BUT THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR CHARGING $65 for a mediocre bottle of wine and THEN SERVING IT TO ME OUT OF A CABINET BY THE HOSTESS STAND.
The wine, served at around 75 degrees, tasted hot and alcoholic. A far cry from the 58 degree proper serving temperature. I was with another Sommelier that evening, and the only thing that saved this waiter from being massacred by me right there in the dining room was my friend's playful smirk.
"I told you we shouldn't debase ourselves by stepping foot into this "restaurant," his look screamed at me across the table. I could do nothing but choke the wine down and smile back.
How does one prevent failure in such a situation?
Let's start at the beginning.
DO NOT TELL A GUEST THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU'RE USING THIS WINE KEY AND YOU DON'T REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
DO NOT HACK AT THE FOIL LIKE A LUMBERJACK TRYING TO MEET HIS END OF THE MONTH QUOTA.
DO NOT CUT AT THE TOP OF THE BOTTLE SO THE LEAD CAPSULE DISINTEGRATES INTO MY UNDERSIZED GLASS.
DO NOT POUR THIS MEDIOCRE, WARM SWILL WITHOUT OFFERING A TASTE TO THE PERSON ORDERING IT.
It's not rocket science. I know I'm not at Jean George's, but please open the wine with more dignity than your mother had when you were conceived that fateful night in the back of the 82 Camaro.
What a spectacular disaster.
Here's how to not get your eyes gouged out -
1. Know your vintages. When approaching the person ordering the wine, state the name of the producer, the AVA and the vintage. Present the label.
2. Cut the foil carefully, right here.
3. Slowly, insert the worm into the cork. There's no rush. Pull it out gently, inspect the cork. If it looks like the wine has cooked or boiled over, don't serve it. If it looks intact, well compressed and hasn't broken, pour a small taste.
4. Assuming the wine is fine, pour for the ladies at the table first, then everyone else, finishing with the host.
THAT'S IT. REALLY.
If these people are ever lucky enough to get my business again, it's whiskey all the way. And maybe a black eye for the wine buyer. In spite of these painful inadequacies, the place was PACKED. So while I have no idea what they're doing right, apparently their target demographic has no idea what they're doing wrong.
And that's fine.
If you'd like your food bathed in mediocrity, your wine served by a Neanderthal who looks like his GED is the crowning achievement of the last decade and have NO PLANS AT ALL OF GETTING LAID - Take your date to Aqua Pazza.
Hey, at least I didn't get food poisoning.
Remember kids - life's too short to drink shit wine. And it's certainly too short to pay $150 for a party of four when a meal at In n Out would have been infinitely more satisfying.
A la votre!