Just read an article written by a “Wine Geek” about how mispronunciations drive her nuts. Her skin crawls when someone pronounces the “t” in the grape name merlot. Or when someone who should know better calls the Champagne named Moёt et Chandon, “Moe-A” instead of the proper pronunciation, “Mwet.” The guy was Dutch, you know.
Those are irritating little things, I will grant that much to the author of the article, but they aren’t the worst. Those you-really-should-know-better linguistic items do not bother me nor, to my knowledge, those around me in a personal way. They are not the fingernails-on-slate items which tend to not just irritate but to drive to distraction.
My line-in-the-sand has more to do with service. I likely won’t even mention when a syllable is out of place or a participle is dangling way out in space. But serve me something that is not right by accepted standards, particularly when the server likely knows of the shortcoming, and I become curt, unfriendly and very unhappy.
Here is what sends me up the wall. My reactions to these unfortunately frequent situations have, every year, caused me to not be named the Greatest Person on the Planet. Glad you asked.
Why do we continue to have the discussion about what constitutes room temperature? The obvious answer, in fact the only answer, is that the room is not located in New Orleans. At no point during the year does any room in the 504 area code qualify as the standard bearer for setting the perfect temperature at which to serve wine. Any wine.
It usually does not happen in restaurants where air conditioning mitigates the effects of heat and humidity, but it has. Wines are stored on shelves and the ambient temperature is about 74 degrees.
That’s not even close to the perfect serving temperature of red wine at 66 degrees, give or take a few degrees, and for white wine at 52 degrees. Sparkling wines are delightful at 45 degrees.
The situation becomes particularly acute when attending a festival where the wines are sitting on a table…in 85 or more-degree heat….in direct sunlight…and the server has been instructed to never put red wines on ice. Hot red wine is not a delicacy that anyone can endure.
There is always a reason why cocktail ingredients are identified by brand name in drink recipes.
Yes, it may be because the distiller is the one who came up with the drink. But the more honest answer is that a particular ingredient makes all the difference in the final mix. If you don’t have the correct ingredient for a drink you wish to make, just do another drink or get the ingredient.
One of the more egregious examples of unsuccessful substitution is using peach schnapps in a Bellini when the essence of white peach, an essential ingredient in this particular cocktail, is not available or out of the cost range of the price setter.
The minute you ask for a drink and the mixologist says they can make you that drink with a (insert inane ingredient here) instead of with the more traditional (insert correct ingredient name here), don’t even pause. Change your cocktail requests.
Less Than a Truthful Description
Don’t you just love restaurant menus that take great pains to describe a dish, and it does indeed look delicious on paper, but when the dish arrives, there is a “surprise” ingredient. I invariably order a dish because I like what I am reading about the dish on the menu and sometimes when my anticipated delight arrives, the dish is loaded with onions or garlic or Arugula or citrus, and none of those were even mentioned on the menu.
Seems to me that when a chef’s creation brings in a dominant flavor, no matter how much you love the ingredient, you should know about it before you order. When I am ordering a dish with which I am not familiar, I am putting my trust in the kitchen. Then along comes the dish, topped with chopped boiled egg that had never been mentioned.
That’s not playing fair.
We have all walked into a restaurant, sat down, and waited quite a while for acknowledgement. Sometimes the wait staff is talking amongst themselves. Or they are cleaning up tables recently vacated by other diners. Whatever. Bottom line: service is not coming my way and I am competing for attention from a group of people paid to give me attention.
In the case of a staff member cleaning another table while you watch unacknowledged, you are competing with an unseen customer, one who may never show. I don’t know how you make that work to receive a glass of water, some silverware, or just a smile from a staff member that says, “I see you and will be with you in just a moment. Promise.”
Okay, this marks the second week in a row that I have climbed unto my soap box and just went into my rant routine. Last week was restaurant wine pricing and corkage fees.
I promise that next week we return to the saner topics of drinks and their pleasures. As for me, I’m feeling better already. Thanks. How much do I owe you for two sessions?
Read Happy Hour here on MyNewOrleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed at www.wgso.com. Also check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life" every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m. on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans.