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Dec 9, 2006 05:57 PM

When the sommelier ignores your wishes...

Last night I had dinner at a fantastic seafood restaurant. With the help of the sommelier, I chose a beautiful bottle of Sancerre to go with the meal and was thrilled with the selection. By the time we finished the bottle we only had a couple of courses to go and didn't think we could finish a whole second bottle so I asked about half bottles and selections by the glass. Our particular wine was not available by the glass so I asked for something comparable, suggesting a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris, many of which were available both by the glass and by the half bottle. I specifically stated that I wanted something dry and crisp, and that I did not enjoy sweet wines.

The sommelier disappeared for a while and came back with a French Chardonnay. He said that there was only enough for one glass in the bottle so would split it between my companion and I "to taste". It was not at all what I had asked for, cloyingly sweet, heavy and almost syrupy. He did not come back to see how we were doing until we had finished the meal, and never asked if we had enjoyed the wine. Surprisingly, when the bill came we were charged $18 for our "taste".

My point is, why completely ignore my suggestions when I had very clearly specified exactly what I wanted? And why charge me for something that I did not ask for and was supposed to be a taste?

Since the rest of the dinner was outstanding I didn't mention the charge (and considering how extravagant the meal was I didn't think $18 made that much of a difference) but I'm still a little irked!

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    1. re: adkim

      The most annoying thing is that I would have happily shelled out 50-odd bucks for a half bottle of something I liked.

    2. I wouldn't have paid it, and/or taken it out of the tip.

      1. I wouldn't have paid for it. More than that, I would have asked a waiter to remove the offending wine and ask for the sommelier to return to the table. Pronto.

        1. "It was not at all what I had asked for, cloyingly sweet, heavy and almost syrupy."

          More importantly, it couldn't possibly have been a regular "Chardonnay" if it was as you describe. It must have been a dessert wine (which could be made from Chard or mostly Chard).

          The "taste" part was obviously misleading, but not necessarily deceitful. Presumably he meant he'd split the glass - probably not SOP - so each of you could have "some", but I think I myself would've asked why he wasn't just opening another bottle if they sell it by the glass in the first place.

          Under the circumstances I wouldn've been pretty peeved about the awful recommendation, but I think I would've been wondering what he meant by "taste" and so wouldn't have been shocked to be charged for one full glass, anyway.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MikeG

            Yeah, I don't know a ton about wine, aside from what I like or don't like. I was unsure about what he meant by "taste", which is the main reason I didn't bother mentioning it. But if we were in fact tasting it, it was surprising that he didn't come back to see whether or not we liked it or if we wanted a full glass of something.

          2. Yeh. NO Way I would have paid for that. In this case I would have perhaps even relished the looming confrontation. That was plainly a sneaky, backhanded way to dispense with a customer's wishes, empty an old bottle of its contents and put some extra dollars in his pocket.

            No Way!!!1

            1 Reply
            1. re: krushdnasty

              He could've put way more money in his pocket if he'd given me something I liked! Like I said, I would have happily paid much more for a half bottle of something good.

              "perhaps even relished the looming confrontation" hahahaha!! I love it. I hate confrontation in any form but it gladdens me that there are people out there willing to fight the good fight.