One of the aspects of customer service that makers of wines and spirits do not have to worry about is service after the sale. Sure, every maker of such products would love to have you purchase another bottle at some other time. But very little is done by way of service or interface to encourage you to do something like that. The manufacturers really don’t know who you are, so there is no ability to follow up to determine your satisfaction with their product, and if there is something wrong with the experience, you will take it up with the retailer or the restaurateur, who may or may not take it up with the wholesaler, the winery or distiller. In any case, your name is out of the entire situation.

Social media have tried to correct this lack of communication between those who make these products and those who buy them. But that is a wholly unsatisfactory way to conduct a love affair. You, the consumer, can say to the world that you “like” the stuff, but, in the end, who are you and why would others be influenced? No offense, but any one consumer really carries no weight except to friends and family, and even then … well, you know.

That’s why what is about to occur here in New Orleans is so absolutely singular that it begs discussion and attention.

Penfold’s, a revered brand name in fine wine, founded in Australia in 1844, is coming to New Orleans very soon to conduct a "re-corking clinic." They have asked me not to reveal the date or the place, but if you qualify to attend, then it is all free and you are going to have an exceptional experience.

Here’s what it takes to get in the doors, wherever they are: a bottle, or any number of bottles, of any Penfold’s wine at least 15 years of age. If you have any bottle in the Penfold’s line from the Koonunga Hills label all the way up to Grange, at least vintage 1997 or older, then you can bring those wines to this event, have them evaluated by experts, refilled to the proper point if necessary and have a new cork inserted with certification that the wine was inspected and found to be in good order.

What’s incredible about all of this, besides the high level of service that will be bestowed on your wines, is that the clinic is here in New Orleans, one of only two cities in the U.S. included in the tour this year.

Let me continue with the amazing news of this event: The generous people of Penfold’s have agreed to relax their usually hard rules about the age of the wine to be evaluated. Because of the issues with Katrina, namely the terrible heat that followed the storm and the lack of electricity to many parts of the area for extended periods of time, Penfold’s wines “about” 12 to 15 years old will be included in this important service.

Penfold’s’ offering this evaluation and recorking is unique in the wine world. I know of no other winery that even talks about such amenities. There are some third-party companies that, for a fee, will try to determine the validity of older wines, but they are unable to fill the bottles to the proper level with the correct wine should all be found to be in order except the “fill.” And some wineries will begrudgingly accept older bottles for examination and then recorking should that be necessary, but there are costs attached in addition to the shipping and insurance expenses.

Since 1991, Penfold’s has evaluated more than 99,000 bottles of their wines in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America.

If you want the Chief Winemaker of Penfold’s, Peter Gago, Senior Winemaker Steve Leinert, as well as associate winemaker Matt Lane, to examine your aging Penfold’s bottles, call (707) 299-3252, or e-mail Request a time, tell them what you have, and then take advantage of this opportunity.

Honestly, the simple fact that it’s here in New Orleans should be enough to move you along to get this done.

Last Mention (at least for awhile) about Cocktails and Calories

For some reason, and I don’t think I’m sensitive about this, I have addressed weight issues, sugar issues, and calorie issues a number of times this summer. Maybe I passed a mirror while wearing my Speedo and did not like what I saw. (That never actually happened but just the thought of it will cause me to pass up several meals, and a few snacks, today.)

Anyway, for those who consider weight-load factors while drinking, Morton’s Steak House over in Canal Place, in their freshly refurbished space including a great new bar area, may have just solved your … er … issue … uh … problem … oh … situation.

Low-calorie cocktails certainly sounds like the perfect oxymoron but they are now being served at Morton’s, and, frankly, they are pretty darn good, which in itself is quite an accomplishment. These drinks have been named “Spa-Tinis” by the Morton’s brain trust and while this wonderful steak house will never be confused with those places offering hot tubs, body oils, and cucumber eye-covers, this may be as close as an alcohol concoction is going to come to acting like there is a chance not to put on as much poundage as you would under the usual circumstances.

Even the names of the drinks make it sound like you are paying attention to your delightful body parts that seem to react with a mind of their own as a result of what passes over the palate. The cocktails are the Skinny Blood Orange Cosmo; the Antioxidant Green; the Lean and Green, possibly a Tulane favorite; Skinny Rita, hopefully no relation to the Cosmo noted above; and, ever-popular in New Orleans, the Red Velvet.

As you would expect the cocktails are beautiful when served, and if they truly are lower in calories, plus they taste excellent, who can kick about any of that?

You will probably save enough calories to dive without guilt into the wonderful onion bread loaf slathered with butter.

Or is that too much to ask?