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Is it really expected that one order wine in fine restaurants?

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Is one really *supposed* to order wine in upscale restaurants? I never do and sometimes the waitstaff seems annoyed. I do order cocktails, though. I enjoy the taste of wine, but I just can't drink it. Even half a glass makes me feel very uncomfortable: overly hot and flushed and bloated. I don't have this problem with other kinds of alchohol. What do you think?

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  1. They should not "expect" anyone tp order wine. Certain people cannot tolerate any kind of alcohol. I would not return to a restaurant that made me feel uncomfortable about that or any other item on the menu.

    1. I don't see why any server would be annoyed. Often, cocktails are more expensive than glasses of wine, so their tips will go up accordingly.

      1. Gosh, I know I'm in the minority but I really cannot seem to acquire a taste for alcohol of any kind. A good bartender to me, is someone who can mask the alcohol to I don't taste it at all. I feel self-conscious though at a nice resturant when I don't "round out" my meal with the proper selection of wine. I wonder if the waitstaff views me as either incompetent or a cheap-skate.

        1. I agree with the other posters that say it is not expected you order wine but it is the norm. This having been said, no waiter should make you feel uncomfortable if you order nothing more to drink than water.

          1. No, only if you like or appreciate wine.

            Many of the most upscale restaurants (French Laundry/Per Se comes to mind) actually have non-alcoholic beverage programs.

            Ditto the point about cocktails- booze is expensive no matter what! Plus, any savvy diner knows to tip a lower percentage on the wine than the food.

            43 Replies
            1. re: dude

              Dude, I agree with you. If you have an appreciation for wine only should you order it.
              A great wine paired properly with food will bring out the best in a dish and vice versa.
              One should never feel pushed in any particular way from a server, unless of course you have asked for his or her reccommendation(s).

              If a server seems annoyed about something, please do not assume it is anything that you have said, done, or not ordered. Unless you were rude they have no right to act annoyed by you or any table.

              That said, please understand that servers are people too, and we do get annoyed just like anyone else. Maybe he or she was just having a bad day. Dont take it personally.

              Oh, and I disagree about the "lower percentage" tip on the wine, but that is a whole other topic.

              1. re: dude

                I agree with everything that you said until the "lower percentage" tip on wine thing.

                I cannot understand why you would tip a lower percentage on beverages than food. This is an issue that has perplexed me for years. With the food, the server does next to if not nothing besides ring it in to the computer. (There are, of course, some exceptions, such as The Melting Pot, where the server basically prepares your meal. That is nevertheless not the norm.)

                When you order a beverage, the server is most likely adding the straw and garnish (if appropriate), as well as actually bringing it to your table. With a bottle of wine, especially, the server is doing ALL the work. The bartender puts the bottle on the well, the server carries it to your table. If it's white, the server also brings an unwieldy and large contraption to keep it cold (bucket and stand - ever carried that with a tray of drinks?). The server does an entire presentation which includes showing you the bottle, cutting off the top paper, unscrewing the cork, pouring a taste to the person who ordered it, waiting, then serving the group when okayed. Then, throughout the time you are there, the server is constantly repouring for all.

                There is clearly more done to serve you wine than ANYTHING else...why would you tip less for that?

                I don't get.

                1. re: hdvaughan

                  Because, often when I order wine, I order bottles that end up costing more than the food. Thus, in my case, more labor is involved in serving 2 bottles of wine versus a 4 or 5 course dinner. I usually tip 20 percent on food and 15 % on wine, which I think is very generous

                2. re: dude

                  Savvy diners do indeed tip as much on the wine as on anything else. The server is doing quite a bit of work to do the wine service, and should be given proper recompense. I've been a server for years, and can tell you that people who gush over how well I've treated them and then don't tip me on the wine are less than welcome in my section again, because I consider them to be cheap.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    It's not a matter of not tipping on wine, I just don't think servers do the work to justify a $100 tip on a $500 bottle of wine- the key difference is outside of wine there won't ever be (ok very very rarely) an item on a menu even in the highest class of dining that is $500.I tend to tip about 10% on wine but about 20-25% on the rest of the meal where the majority of the work lies.

                    1. re: jpschust

                      I think this is a reasonable approach. I don't tip a straight percentage on wine because it won't necessarily reflect the amount of effort or care the waiter or sommelier put in. If I order a $30 bottle of wine and they serve it with the same care they would a $400 bottle of wine...the $5 or $6 that would come from a 20%ish tip doesn't seem enough. On the other hand, $80 may well be out of line in terms of a tip on the high end for the service of a single bottle of wine. Yes, the restaurant is likely putting more storage time and more finely tuned equipment into storing the more expensive bottle (at least its pretty to think so) but that's why the bottle costs $400. I don't need to tip to reflect that, I'm paying for the bottle to reflect that.

                      Half bottles are another thing that sort of kills the percentage tip calculation. We often order half bottles and if we get, say, 3 of them the total cost will be, say $150. But there have been three entirely separate bottles that had to be opened, perhaps decanted, fresh stemware delivered, etc etc. I'd tip more than $30 for that.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        The simple answer to this is start drinking full bottles :)

                      2. re: jpschust

                        I'd like to think that if you can afford a $500. bottle of wine, that you can afford to fork up the 15% on it to tip your very likely less wealthy server.

                        1. re: momof3

                          I have just never bought that as a concept. I can't really afford a $500 bottle of wine...but if i could, why should I be expected to fork over more money than someone else for the same service?

                          Remember, I'm positing the notion that for good wine service a straight percentage doesn't make a lot of sense; same amount of work on the part of the server for the inexpensive bottle of wine as for the expensive bottle. We could even allow that both bottles were decanted...so definitely the same level of service on the part of the server. 15% on $50 is $7.50...I think that's too low. 15% on $500 is $75...that's maybe too much. Certainly its an arguable point...but I don't think its reasonable to say that because someone can afford the more expensive bottle they, therefore, must tip more than someone else would.

                          1. re: ccbweb

                            i just hope you all are keeping in mind that servers tip out to support staff on a percentage of SALES, not tips.

                            average "tip-out" is 5%. so no matter what tip you leave me for that $500 bottle of wine- i have to give away $25.

                            service is service- and the proper ettiquette as far as i've read is tip 15-20% on the total of the bill for good service. if you don't want to tip the proper amount you shouldn't be ordering the expensive wine. period.

                            my tip out percentage doesn't go up or down based on the price of your chosen wine- why should yours? also, the restaurant doesn't have a smaller markup for more expensive bottles. why would you decide that the server should get less in this case?

                            sorry, do what you want but know your server will wonder who you think you are if you decide you're entitled to a special rule just because you're spending alot on wine.

                            1. re: excuse me miss

                              A completely reasonable point that I hadn't considered. (I should point out that I never much worry about what the server or someone thinks of me based on what I've done....but I do try to be fair and reasonable about things for my own reasons.)

                              And, for all of my big talk, I went back and looked at receipts from the last few meals my wife and I went out for...the best example was at Quince in SF where we ordered two half bottles and my wife had a glass of dessert wine. Our server helped us select all three to go with our food choices, opened both bottles, brought appropriate stemware, refilled glasses...in short, fabulous wine service which was entirely in line with the terrific service we received generally. We tipped just under 30% on the whole tab (including, as it turns out, the valet parking now that I'm looking at the receipt again). So, I guess when I'm hypothesizing on chowhound, I tend toward stingier than when I'm the recipient of good service.

                              1. re: excuse me miss

                                Then my server can think that and be greedy- getting what amounts to be a 25 dollar tip after tipout on a 500 dollar bottle of wine is pretty decent in my book if they are getting 20+% on their food.

                                1. re: jpschust

                                  Tipping on wine is a hot topic on and off on the wine boards. There is no general consensus but two are fairly common: 1)if you can afford the wine you should be able to afford a tip, or 2) once you get past a certain price point, a reasonable tip is all that is needed, not a percentage. (say a flat $20-25 per bottle, regardless of the price for higher priced bottles) If there is a sommelier, I make sure to tip him/her separately. I'm i the tip on the total cost school, but then I seldom spend more than $150 on a bottle of wine in a restaurant since here in DC they permit corkage and I prefer to bring something from my cellar. That is a whole different tipping discussion.

                                  As to the original question, one is never expected to order wine, regardless of the class of restaurant. Some people do not drink, others don't like wine, etc. Restaurants are there to serve you, not the other way around. Order what you like, and if the server is so unprofessional as to even hint that you are less welcome for not ordering wine, look them in the eye and suggest that they find a line of work more suited to their personality. (That is not to say that they should not inquire whether you want wine or suggest a wine to go with your meal, but to imply that one should buy wine because it is a fancy restaurant is very unprofessional.)

                                  1. re: jpschust

                                    what is your book called?
                                    and how many years experience do you have serving in restaurants?
                                    just curious.

                                    btw- unless you have the wine on a separate bill it just works out to be a certain percentage on the whole. $500 on wine: 10%=$50. say $200 on food: 20%-$40. total bill: $700. total tip $90. just under 13%.

                                    1. re: excuse me miss

                                      EMM

                                      jfood believes that everyone focusses so much on percentages that they loose site of the dollars involved. And no jfood has never worked in a resto but has spent tons of time and money in them.

                                      At the end of the evening do you sit around and say:
                                      a - i earned 21.5% tonight or
                                      b - i earned $135 tonight

                                      would you rather
                                      a - the custo order the $300 bottle of wine and leave an additional $30 of which you have to tip out $15 or
                                      b - the custo order a diet coke for $5 and leave you $1 and you tip out $0.15

                                      jfood point is you do not spend percentages, you spend dollars and more dollars in at the end of the night is better than less. Instead of servers fixating on T/B (tip divided by bill) as the measure of the evening how about dollars in the pocket.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        both, actually.
                                        honestly- if i made $135 off $1000 in total sales i'd say i had a great night.
                                        but if i sold $2000 and made $135 that would be a bad night.

                                        that IS how we measure our success. you're right. i know it's bizarre. my boyfriend is also a server (professional waiter/sommelier in training) and we DO often stop and laugh about how it's rediculous that we can be "disappointed" to "only" make $135.

                                        that said- i'm THRILLED to get a 5% tip from let's say, a sweet elderly eastern european couple who really loved my service and genuinely think they're leaving me a great tip. it's the attitude of "well, since i'm spending this much on one item i should get to tip a lower percentace..." that i have a problem with.

                                        1. re: excuse me miss

                                          furthermore, jfood, the tipping system IS based on percentage, and when you calculate my tip it is a PERCENTAGE amount, is it not? so why turn around and say how dare we we focus too much on percent, not enough on dollars? and why is the customer who says "woah- 20% works out to alot of dollars so it should be less" in the right?

                                          if you spend $500 on food do i deserve the same tip as if you only spent $200- assuming i do the same amount of work?

                                          a good tip is 20%. that is the accepted rule, right?

                                          is it safe to say one who spends $500 on a bottle of wine could be categorized as "rich"? should there be separate rules for rich people? they shouldn't have to tip as much because the dollar amount is high? are these the same people who think paris hilton shouldn't have to go to jail?

                                          the rule is- a god tip for good service is 20%. if i'm greedy for expecting that amount no matter what the bill- or items on the bill, than you are also greedy for deciding i don't deserve the industry standard ettiquette tip amount because it's "too much money".

                                          oh, and i'd much rather serve the guy with the diet coke. $1 from a nice person is worth more to me than $30 from a rich jerk. if my focus is dollars in the pocket- how am i any different?

                                          1. re: excuse me miss

                                            EMM

                                            Clutch in, downshift please. Jfood not trying to get your blood pressure off the charts, just having a different point of view like many on this thread.

                                            Jfood's point was that some servers focus on percentages and not dollars and when servers spend their hard earned pay, it's the dollars not the percentages that the grocer and the electric company would like to receive not percentages. But jfood also does not believe that a server deserves the same percentage on a $500 of wine and a $200 of wine. The actual serving is approximately the same and the tip would be 2.5 times greater on the $500 bottle. On this we probably agree to disagree.

                                            But to your questions:
                                            1- 200 vs 500 - the way you phrase it jfood would say that yes you deserve the same dollars on both. BUT, that's not the norm in the food industry. jfood believes that you would earn the same percentage on these two scenarios and therefore you would earn 2.5 times the tip in dollars on the complete food "service" for 500 versus 200. and jfood would disagree with your follow-up question of "so what;s the difference in the wine?" to that jfood would respond that a $500 food service is a drawn out process for the server with many touch points with the custo. the wine service is a single point of contact, serving the bottle that the owner of the resto, not the server has taken the risk of puchase, storing, etc. the server should make a reasonable percentage on the wine but if you are telling jfood that you work as hard on delivering a bottle of wine as you do in delivering the entire food service, well, that's a long putt.
                                            2 - 20% - if you look through numerous threads on CH you will find that this topic is discussed ad nauseum but the general consensus seems to be in the 15-20% range for normal tipping.
                                            3 - spending 500 for wine - jfood has other adjectives to describe someone who spends 500 on a bottle of wine, and if your viewpoint is "rich" that's ok with jfood.
                                            4 - jfood never used the word greedy. merely discussing different views on tipping on wine versus food. there is really no consensus on this topic and if you believe you deserve 20% and the custo does not believe likewise, unfortunately you are on the wrong side of that trade. likewise if you truly believe there is "a rule" then jfood has some bad news, there are no "rules" on tipping, there are guidelines and etiquette and those guidelines are for both sides. If the server gives better service, gets more, if less service gets less. That's why it's left to the discretion of the custo in this country. may not be the best or fairest, but it's what we got.
                                            5 - you contradict yourself on the last paragraph, jfood thinks your emotion kicked into turbo at this point. jfood will take the $30 if jfood wants more dollars in the pocket.

                                            There are some on this board that will kick it back at the end of the meal and say, "Hmmm, think $20 is a good tip for the service delivered" irrespective of the cost of the meal. And yes many of us have been all over these people as unfair to the server. so the percentage is a good proxie for getting to a reasonable amount of dollars that the server has earned. It is the means to the end and should not be the end.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              I'm glad I waited for JFood to leave a measured answer to Miss Miss.

                                              EMMiss, surely you appreciate there is some tension between your emphatic
                                              "A tip is for service. What service did I receive??" in this thread
                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/409108 you launched, and the
                                              "Strict Percentagist" view here.

                                              1. re: psb

                                                yes, but for great service i would tip 20%. bad service=lower percentage.

                                                THIS discussion was regarding lowering the tip percentage because a specific item on the bill is a high price. were we not assuming all other factors- ie quality of service- remained constant? some of you were introducing a sliding scale tipping system and i disagreed with the principle of that.

                                                1. re: excuse me miss

                                                  Part of many people's point is there is little ability to distinguish between
                                                  avg/excellent service in some cases.

                                                  If I get a lunch of burger/shake/fries, there isnt all that much a different
                                                  between good and great service.

                                                  Obviously the scope to "show off" is much greater in a 9 course, 5 hour meal,
                                                  so reasonably the the tipping range is wider. it's easier to tell good from
                                                  great service here.

                                                  So when one orders a $500 bottle of wine vs a $100 bottle of wine, your ability
                                                  to provide a greater range of service, allowing one to distinguish between
                                                  good an great does not expand in the same way as it does between a $10
                                                  meal and a $100 meal.

                                                  You know this is very similar to the discussion about the linear increase
                                                  in real estate agent fees as house prices have greatly increased ... whether
                                                  it makes sense for the percentage to stay the same, when the amount of
                                                  work has not changed greatly. It's also great to see the self interested parties
                                                  start sputtering in conversations about this, especially when moving from
                                                  percentages to per-hour payment comes up [analogous to moving toward
                                                  no-tip, salary only service].
                                                  See e.g.
                                                  http://www.freakonomics.com/times0305...
                                                  and may other columns/comments there.

                                                  1. re: psb

                                                    Neglecting for a moment that freakonomics the book and often the columns are highly flawed from a core economics perspective, I think you're missing the issue here. The issue is one of total price- a server does not deserve to nor should they have the audacity to suggest that one tips $100 on a $500 bottle. I believe in rewarding servers well for their work, especially when it's good but wine does not neccesitate 20%. It's very very simple.

                                                    Now that said, just like dinwiddie, unless I am on someone else's expense account I tend not to order $500 bottles of wine out, I just bring my own high end bottles.

                                                    1. re: jpschust

                                                      As I've noted in other places, its also true that a straight percentage is probably insufficient at the low end as well. Sticking just with the wine, last night my wife and I ordered a half bottle that was $25. Our server took away the wine glasses that were set on the table when we sat down and brought appropriate glasses for the wine we ordered; he presented the wine, opened it, poured a taste, pour my wife a glass after I'd confirmed the wine was good, poured mine....later he came back and refilled our glasses to the apporpriate levels.

                                                      Excellent wine service (the wine didn't need to be decanted, so no worries there). If I tipped 20% I'd be leaving about $5 for that. Obviously, we didn't only get the bottle and it was a part of a larger meal that ended up costing about another $100 for the food. I left more than 20% as a tip total because the service was excellent, we're regulars at this place and they really go out of their way to make sure my wife's dietary restrictions (not many, but important) are met.

                                                      My point, again, $5 for that wine service doesn't seem to me to be sufficient. But its the same service as for (going from the wine list at the restaurant) the most expensive bottle on the menu, $90 for which a 20% tip would be $18.

                                                      What is the reasoning behind the idea that those two tips are both appropriate?

                                                      EMM's point about servers having to tip out based on sales is an important one to keep in mind, but as I think about it, I think that's a systems problem for restaurants and one that should be changed (ie, wine sales shouldn't automatically be factored into the sales totals on which servers have to tip out).

                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                        "I think that's a systems problem for restaurants and one that should be changed (ie, wine sales shouldn't automatically be factored into the sales totals on which servers have to tip out)."

                                                        FANTASTIC IDEA!!!!! but good luck. trust me, servers debate with owners and managers on a regular basis about tippools. at the end of the day- if we don't like it, we are welcome to look for employment elsewhere. did you know many tippools include 2% to "the house"? meaning the owners and managers get a portion of our tips on top of their salaries and profits.

                                                        i could go on and on, but i'm starting to get bitter, and i have to work tonight.

                                                        1. re: excuse me miss

                                                          >did you know many tippools include 2% to "the house"?
                                                          >
                                                          my understanding is this is not legal in California..
                                                          http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_TipsAn...

                                                          in fact they cant deduct credit card fees either.

                                                          although i dunno if CA is the exception or the rule.
                                                          additionally, CA doesnt have a tip credit.

                                                          1. re: psb

                                                            my understanding is it's not legal anywhere. but everywhere does it.
                                                            and what do you think would happen to me if i make a complaint about my employer to the labour board???

                                                            all things i will consider when i oneday own my own restaurant.

                                                            1. re: excuse me miss

                                                              not that this would make you feel better but lawsuit in NY as well.

                                                              http://www.nypost.com/seven/01312007/...

                                                        2. re: ccbweb

                                                          It seems that the 2 systems dont mesh together . The tipping server and the tip-out support staff.

                                        2. re: excuse me miss

                                          book? I've got no idea what you're talking about.

                                          I've got a few years under me from everything in low end to casual elegant dining though I no longer work in the industry.

                                      2. re: excuse me miss

                                        sometimes servers tip out according to sales; sometimes they tip out according to tips. It depends on the restaurant and how the tip out system is set up. Not all work the same way.

                                    2. re: momof3

                                      My time is worth more to me to just tip the same on everything rather that figure out the different tips based on wine and food. And really, if you can afford the $500 bottle or wine and the meal to go with it, what's $25-50 difference in tip?

                                      Then again, the husband and I are notorious overtippers, I guess because we know what it's like. Just last night we tipped 25% on Greek delivery. They love coming to our house!

                                      1. re: irishnyc

                                        The difference is 25-50 dollars. You can buy a 500 dollar bottle of wine and be cost conscious as well.

                                    3. re: jpschust

                                      You try waiting tables for a while, your opinion on the work that goes on will change very quickly indeed.

                                      And whether you tip on it or not, I still get taxed on it. As it has been said many times before, if you can afford the wine, you can afford the tip.

                                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                        You clearly didn't read my other post from above as I have worked in the industry. Wine over a certain price point NEVER deserves a 20% tip.

                                        1. re: jpschust

                                          jpschust, may i ask you to consider

                                          - that the server serving in a restaurant that serves $500 bottles of wine is probably very experienced and likely has been serving for many years.
                                          - that the server serving in a restaurant that serves $500 bottles of wine likely has taken courses and has extensive knowledge about the wines. he/she may even be a sommellier.

                                          in most, if not all, professions more experience and more education=higher salary. in restaurants, even in fine dining servers get server wage. the higher wage must come from higher tips.

                                          of course you can tip whatever you want- but if the general belief changes to support that wine over a certain price gets less of a tip- if there is a "cap" on what a server can make- if total tips on high bills are reduced to 13%- i would think less people would be inclined to be/stay professional servers- and the quality of service would fall.

                                          1. re: excuse me miss

                                            Beyond my view that the overall quality of service has gone far below what it should be, including wine service especially, let me respond to your points directly.

                                            Even if total tips come out to be about 13%, 13% on what is likely to be over a $1000 bill is 130 which is a pretty solid tip in my mind considering it's highly unlikely that the server only has one table- let's just say for a moment that the server has 4 four-tops (a smaller section than most get) that do 2 turns. It's highly likely that server is going to walk away with over $500 in tips even after tipouts for an evening- not a bad night if I do say so seeing as there are essentially 3 weekend nights plus 2 "slower nights". Reasonably a server overall at this type of restaurant can stand to reasonably make over 1500 per week in tips alone which seems to be a pretty nice living to me.

                                            Additionally there's no cap to what one can tip, I just think and will always think that tipping over 10% or so on bottles well over $100 is overtipping by far.

                                            1. re: jpschust

                                              LOL- quite a bit of an overestimate i'd say. my SO works in fine dining and he definitely doesn't make that much- and most people do tip 15- 20% on the total bills. and trust me- the servers at that restaurant DO derserve it. also a table that spends that much isn't likely to turn.

                                              so supposing service WAS at the level of quality it should be- in your opinion- it still would not warrant a proper tip? (proper meaning 15% as suggested by the emily post institute http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/list... )

                                              1. re: excuse me miss

                                                from your link:
                                                >15% of cost of the bottle
                                                >
                                                i'd be more than happy to tip 15% of the *cost* of the bottle.
                                                the *price* however ...

                                                >the servers at that restaurant DO derserve it.
                                                >
                                                you left out the "and it's good karma" argument [sic].

                                                --psb

                                                1. re: excuse me miss

                                                  It's very rough math to say the least, but looking back at some of my tips from working fine dining, not so far off base.

                                                  Regardless of what the post institute says, who by the way isn't the end all and be all of dining, tips on bottles of wine will always be limited at a certain point for me. You aren't going to change me on this as it's my cash and I really think it's greedy and rediculous of a server to ask for more than that on an expensive bottle of wine.

                                                  Now if you want to have a chat on why I think restaurants should treat their staff better and provide more for their staff so we have to tip less, even if it raises the cost of dining out in the long run, that's another discussion we can have, but for now wait staff is getting 20-25 from me on food and 10 or so on wine over a certain price point.

                                                2. re: jpschust

                                                  It does seem reasonable to limit the tip on wine since the price can be exponentially greater than say sodas/waters/iced teas without the exponentially greater level of service by the server pouring wine.

                                        2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                          JK

                                          Are you saying a tip in general or a tip in the same percentage as the rest of the meal?

                                          Since Jfood does not drink there is no dog in this hunt but he would have a difficult time labling someone "cheap" for leaving 25% on the food and 10% on an expensive bottle of wine.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            25 percent on the food and 10 percent on the wine, I wouldn't mind unless the bottle cost twice the meal. Usually it's 20 percent on the food and zero on the wine.

                                            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                              JK

                                              Gotta agree that there should be some tip on the wine, zero is a bush league response. Many of your colleagues have stated that the same percentage on the food should be applied to the wine. Glad that's not the position here.

                                              TY

                                      2. I am not young and acutely remembering learning all this "stuff." I often find the wait staff - with few exceptions - are focused on their own needs and perceptions rather than the customers. I suspect it has something to do with all of these food shows extolling the profession. In any event you need to laugh at them if they are so immature as to not acknowledge your - the customer's - request! I have often found that being very directive overcomes their profound ignorance - which too sadly we all too often incur. BTW my wife is diabetic and never orders wine - one needs to be assertive with these ignorant wait persons that have a fixated view (likely based on maximizing tips) as to what THEY (ahem) deem appropriate. Cheers with the beverage of one's choice (I am dringing water tonight)

                                        1. My husband is sensitive to sulfites, and has had some bad reactions to even allegedly low sulfite wines. Your description reminds me of how he gets after "even half a glass". Been gets him in the same way.

                                          So any restaurant that tries to put pressure on us to go with the wine is a restuarant that we would not return to.

                                          1. I have a few friends that while not allergic to alcohol or grapes have a similar reaction to wine -- it might have something to do with genetics. One friend has no such reaction to an alcohol free "wine", but she does not particularly enjoy the taste -- and I am not sure it is the alcohol as much as it some kind of reaction to something in the wine making process. There are some results if you google "yeast" and/or malic acid...

                                            I think that too many wait staff assume that they are gonna get a 15% tip for yanking the cork out of bottle and with average in restaurant wine prices going up everyday that 15% might be pretty close to an extra hours worth of income for about 5 minutes of effort.

                                            Very few places have alcohol free wine so might try to ask for it, knowing that they'll assume you want to head to an AA meeting, but then does not jibe with your desire for a cocktail....

                                            At a place that you are "regular" you might be able to nicely chat-up the wait staff, but even that has the potential to be misinterpreted...

                                            1. I would never give a single dollar to any restaurant that offered a menu and then assumed that I should be ordering wine to go along with it. If the waitstaff gets annoyed because I choose to refrain from purchasing wine, then they won't have to be bothered by me again because I certainly won't darken their doorstep.

                                              It never ceases to amaze me that more and more restaurants think they are doing me a big, life-changing favor by allowing me to dine in their establishment. Thankfully, for every snooty waiter or waitress than turns his or her nose up at me for not ordering wine, there is an earnest, friendly server that will bend over backwards for me because he/she knows I have a choice of restaurants and I chose them.

                                              1. There is no reuirement at all to order wine, any more than there is a requirement to order the most expensive dish on the menu. If waiters go around acting annoyed, that is a good place not to visit. At many restaurants, the markup on wine is exhorbitant and disgraceful. Though I love wine, I usually just order something inexpensive by the glass.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                  Percentagewise, the markup on btg wine is much worse than bottled. You're essentially covering the cost the restaurant pays for the bottle in one glass. If I'm going to get ripped off, I'd at least like to drink something good.

                                                2. Never be pressured to buy anything in a resturant, including bottled water, food specials, or dessert, that you do not want. A lot of times waiters become greedy and/or so used to people spending lots of money on wine that they are off put by people who do not. As a former waitress I know the pressure to sell sell sell.

                                                   
                                                  1. Ditto to all the previous comments that you shouldn't feel any pressure in a restaurant, no matter how upscale. You're paying the bill, you order what you want. I don't drink alcohol at all because it gives me very bad headaches. And I seldom eat more than a main course, I don't have the capacity for more. And if the waitstaff are annoyed, I'll adjust their tip accordingly and make it clear why. DH is often guilted into very generous tips if he feels our bill is lower than most others but that's just him.

                                                    1. after years of negotiating deals, reading body language is second nature for jfood and mrs jfood was born with this inate quality. the percentage of servers that give us the "not maximizing revenue at this table look" is about 40%. The jfoods shrug it off, but since neither of us drink we move on to the more important aspects of the evening, good food and good company. If and when the server is our dining companion, then the attitude comes into play, other than that, its our quiet time and the jfoods couldn't care less.

                                                      But to answer the question there are those 40%'ers who believe it is a requirement to order wine, thereby increasing their tip. But there is ABSOLUTELYno requirement to do so. it does take a little getting use to, but after so many years of seeing both the good the bad and the ugly in the faces of the servers, the jfoods move on to the chocolate desserts.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        JFood: i'm glad you weighed in with the 40% number. That's interesting.
                                                        All the comments about "yes, there is not requirement to order wine." sort of
                                                        missed the point. And of course it is not so simple as "Avoid all restaurants
                                                        where you get a detectable reaction."

                                                        It's an interesting question of what do you do when you do notice slight
                                                        attitude stemming from the waiter deciding the expectation value of what
                                                        will go into his pocket from your table is low ... whether it's because
                                                        "ordered no wine -> low bill", "ordered no wine -> cheap dinner -> low
                                                        tip percentage" or "young person/casual dressed person/etc -> low tip".
                                                        Giving a slightly lowered tip for slight attitude sort of "comfirms" the
                                                        prejudice, while "proving him wrong" by giving him a large tip is of course
                                                        pathological.

                                                        Of course this is mitigated in restaurants you have a "relationship" with and
                                                        are known as a non-drinker, reasonable tipper.

                                                        And I emphasize the "slight" reaction, since as you've suggested
                                                        in other posts, when the service is poor enough to warrant a significant
                                                        tip reduction, it behoves you to communicate about this more explicitly.
                                                        But with this 40%, so you say anything? does it affect your tip level?

                                                        Speaking personally, I'd rather order more food than spend 40% of the
                                                        final bill on wine, but I mostly see it as a "tax" on dining with friends that
                                                        I like, who do get milage out of wine. And I'm ok paying this "tax" to dine
                                                        with people I like rather than dine at half the price but pay the price in company.

                                                        I've wanted to post this question for a long time now, so I'm glad it came up.

                                                        I also though maybe you could let it slip you were a muslim non drinker or something
                                                        [i'm not] :-)

                                                        1. re: psb

                                                          psb,

                                                          I am a bit confused by your first paragraph, particularly this line: "All the comments about 'yes, there is not requirement to order wine.' sort of missed the point."

                                                          Can you clarify what you meant here because the OP asked if one is "supposed" to order wine in a fine dining establishment? That seems to me to be a fairly straightforward yes or no question. What is the point that was missed?

                                                          1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                            I assumed it was a nuanced question about social mores not "is it a requirement,
                                                            along the lines of "you must wear shoes" and you must tip. Obviously people who
                                                            dont drink for medical, religious etc reasons wouldnt be turned away. On the other
                                                            hand, people from non-tipping cultures are expected to tip.

                                                            Did you see the thread about the person who told the story about the cashier
                                                            dropping their 5cents of change into the tip jar and all these people weighted
                                                            in with "it's your money, it doesnt matter whether it was $1 or 1cent" ... again,
                                                            that reply is obvious. The nuanced perspective is more along the lines ... well
                                                            in any of these cases you have a "right" to be annoyed at the presumption, but
                                                            surely the mangnitude of the "deficit" influences how to deal with it [so we
                                                            distinguish between the mental reaction (get annoyed) vs what action you take
                                                            (snappy remark, glare, escalate to management)].

                                                            Or take another running thread whether it is "ok" to ask the price of specials.
                                                            Obviously you are entitled to. They cant refuse to tell you. I assume that is also
                                                            a nuanced question about "are you a little shy to ask because you think people
                                                            might make judgements about you." So I suggested the "sibling vs the first
                                                            date test". I bet people are much more likely to use a coupon, entertainment card
                                                            etc with their spouse or sibling or college roommate than on a first date. But of
                                                            course there is nothing immoral or unethical about excercising one of these options
                                                            and why should you be considered cheap to turn down free money. Would you
                                                            look cheap to pick up a $20 on the ground on a date? A penny? Would you
                                                            assume it wasnt a real $20 because if it was somebody would have picked it
                                                            up already.

                                                            I didnt want to use the term "begging the question" but a some of the replies that
                                                            say "dont worry about it, you have a right to " i think are sort of begging the
                                                            what I assumed was a nuanced question about conventions, as opposed to
                                                            rights. If there are 10 urinals in a mens room and #8 is the only one being used,
                                                            unless #8 is your brother, even though you have "right" to use #7, it would be
                                                            "expected" you not use #7 ... maybe even if #8 was your brother.

                                                            So the issue of "is it a requirement" in the sense of "will society think you
                                                            are wrong" ... is no.

                                                            That JFood fellow weighed in with something useful:
                                                            you may [40% base rate] get some noticeable reaction from the
                                                            self-interested staff, but stick to your preferences and stick to your guns.

                                                            I was further interested in whether that sub-expectation-look motivates to
                                                            you reduce the tip, or whether you figure as long as it doesnt get obnoxious
                                                            "they are just human" and you let it go.

                                                            1. re: psb

                                                              gauche as it may be to reply to myself, i just remembered a fun
                                                              "case study" ... for those of you unfamilar with the "ghetto latte",
                                                              that's a fun one to google for a discussion of "nuances" rather than
                                                              the black and white begging the question view or "rights".

                                                              ghetto-latte = ordering a cheep coffee drink and turning it into a
                                                              more expensice latte-like drink by adding free dairy.
                                                              canonical web page is:
                                                              http://starbucksgossip.typepad.com/_/...

                                                              1. re: psb

                                                                I certainly understand this perspective and I appreciate the explanation, but just as a point of clarification on my end, I asked the question because I am not so sure the obvious question is obvious at all. Here's why:

                                                                About a year or so ago, I posted a review of a steakhouse on my food blog and was surprised to have a few comments and email that went along the lines of "I can't believe you ate there and didn't order a bottle of wine with dinner. I could never have a steak without a bottle of wine. How could you possibly enjoy a steak without wine?" I actually did enjoy my meal. Very much indeed. I think that if that is the view of other patrons then it might also be the view of a few servers here and there.

                                                                Like jfood, I am not playing a game of gotcha, but if a waiter/waitress cops an attitude with me because of what he or she thinks I should be having with dinner (whether because they think I should demonstration I have some taste or because they are wanting a larger tip dollar-wise for the table), I will certainly make a mental note of that behavior and make my choices in tipping accordingly.

                                                                1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                  These are hard words but anybody whose entire argument is "how can you
                                                                  enjoy a steak without wine" isnt make a serious argument. The are saying
                                                                  "I know your brain better than you do". There are reasonable discission
                                                                  about norms, expectations, incentives etc like say on a question like "is 9pm
                                                                  too early to drop into restaurant X and only have dessert rater than a full
                                                                  meal" but if I say my favorite color is blue", I mean what is there to talk about?
                                                                  You can say "I like green better" [I like my steak with wine], or "what shade of
                                                                  blue" [what do you like to drink with you steak], or "have you see the color
                                                                  green" [have you tried strak with a good burgandy] but saying "that's the
                                                                  wrong fav color" is nuts. As is "why did you buy the green shirt if blue is
                                                                  your fav color" [sure, i like wine, and wine and steak, but that night when
                                                                  i was dining by myself i didnt feel like paying $80 instead for $40 for dinner
                                                                  for the marginal different in experence].

                                                                  Maybe this isnt a great analogy, but maybe asking "are you required to
                                                                  order wine at a fancy place" is like asking "are you required to fly business
                                                                  class if you are flying on business".

                                                                  Yes, I understand wine/b-class is where the resto/airlines make most
                                                                  of their money, and under the current pricing system, a coach/waterdrinker
                                                                  may be to some extent freeriding but I dont think this is egregious
                                                                  behavior.

                                                                  But of course with respect to say quality of meal meals, or quality
                                                                  of seat, ration of #seats-#bathrooms etc they are entitled to treat
                                                                  you differently in coach/bclass.

                                                                  Miffed at the waitstaff might be, the real effect is probably more on
                                                                  what the restorant makes off of you. Maybe instead of corkage, you
                                                                  can make a $ side payment to the waitstaff to smile, when you
                                                                  dont order wine :-)

                                                            2. re: psb

                                                              if this is a one off event of the server's attitude then obviously not a ding on the tip scale at all, jfood is not looking for a gotcha to ding the server. if this is a pervasive approach to jfood;s table then the tip gets reduced. and yes if jfood does not leave a reasonable tip, he will mention something on the way out if possible.

                                                              at jfood's regular haunts, the diet coke and tap water arethere about the same time the jfoods arrive at the table. geat service all the time

                                                          2. I would actually turn this one around a bit. My wife and I, when we go to any "nicer" place (from another thread on the definition of 'fine dining' i'll steal the excellent "no ketchup" distinction) we want to and expect to order wine. But we sometimes need help from the restaurant. A good selection of half-bottles almost always ensures that we'll buy one. A decent to good selection of wines by the glass (doesn't need to be huge, just well chosen and reasonably priced) will almost absolutely ensure we'll get 3-4 glasses between the two of us depending on how long the dinner is expected to last. If, however, there aren't any half bottles and the by-the-glass selection is meager then we may pass entirely on the full bottles simply because we don't wish to drink that much. So, we're annoyed when the options aren't there.

                                                            10 Replies
                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                              Not sure where you live ccweb, but in NY and CT you can take your unfinished bottle with you. The cork has to be replaced and the wine put into a sealed (stapled is fine) bag.
                                                              Purchasing wine by the bottle is almost always a better value to the customer, look into this policy in your neck of the woods.

                                                              1. re: momof3

                                                                This is also true in Arizona

                                                                1. re: hdvaughan

                                                                  And true in Florida. Hallelujah!

                                                                2. re: momof3

                                                                  I expect its actually true here in SF as well. The reality, though, is that I don't find it so attractive to take a glass and a half of wine home. Purchasing by the bottle is certainly a better value in almost every circumstance, but its not only value that I'm concerned with in this sort of situation. It is a good note to make though...thanks!

                                                                  1. re: momof3

                                                                    I've never heard of that rule, and I've lived in NYC my whole life! We've forced ourselves to finish a bottle, or have left it behind on more than one occasion with never an offer to "wrap it up." (And per the NYPD husband, he would write a summons for the driver of the car if he saw it in the car... so we'd be interested in knowing where you got that information.)

                                                                    1. re: irishnyc

                                                                      http://abc.state.ny.us/announcements/...
                                                                      Here is the wine doggybag law enacted in 2004--I'm not sure about the stapled is fine comment though, according to the law the container must be a tamper proof one time use bag. I would be interested in knowing how many restaurants maintain a supply of these bags--like you, irish, we often drink more wine than we want to finish the bottle, or leave some behind, and have never been offered the remainder to go. Interesting!

                                                                      1. re: Marge

                                                                        Thank you!

                                                                        1. re: irishnyc

                                                                          You are welcome irishnyc, I would probably keep the wine in the trunk or backseat, not on the driver's lap just in case ;)

                                                                        2. re: Marge

                                                                          because if you leave any wine behind- the server gets to enjoy a glass at the end of his shift.

                                                                          also- the bottle has to be re-corked, and the cork must be all the way in. if the restaurant doesn't have the contraption to do this they might not be able to offer. and i don't think all servers know about the law.

                                                                          1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                            Massachusetts recently enacted a law that allows customers to take hom an unfinished bottle of wine. The restaurants participate on a voluntary basis..and need to have "tamper proof bags" to carry the wine in.

                                                                            I would think that knowledgeable servers who are serving alcohol should be familiar with current laws regarding this.

                                                                  2. It should never, ever be expected and you should never feel bad if you don't. My SO and i could not imagine a good meal w/o great wine. But, my sister and her husband love food and dining out as much as the next chowhound, but they both have over ten years in recovery. Wine does not a good meal make...for everyone.

                                                                    1. One of my friends chooses not to drink any alcoholic beverages. I have watched a variety of waitstaff respond to a very self-confident, "none for me please" with some amusement. Most are fine with it. A few seem downright surprised, and every now and then confused or put off. But more than anything else it is the confident and casual way in which my friend delivers the "just water for me" line.

                                                                      No apologies needed. It is none of the server's business what the reason is: alergies, alcoholism, illness, diet, budget, or just personal preference. Those are all valid reasons, and there is no reason for them to know the reason or question it, unless they are truly trying to be helpful in helping you enjoy your meal. (For example, if it is an alergy, they may want to steer you away from a dish cooked in a wine sauce). In a fine dinng establishment one would hope the staff knows how to do this in a sensitive and non judgemental way.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                        i think you hit it right on kaimukiman... i don't think i could say it better... yes, the revenue may be lower, but there are SO many factors for not having any alcohol... i was at a fine dining place, wanted wine, but had a migraine and couldn't get out of dinner, so any type of alcohol would not have been good for me.

                                                                        i usually just smile at the server and say "no thanks, just waters please." i found that GENERALLY if i'm pleasant, i don't get many of those looks. sometimes i'll even say "you know, the drinks/wine list look great, but i don't think it's a good choice right now." that can mean so many things, that the servers don't even bother to ask... hahaha

                                                                        ps hi jfoods! i've been wondering where your posts were! i enjoy reading them!

                                                                      2. There are all kinds of reasons for not ordering wine: don't like it, can't digest it, taking medication that doesn't mix with it, religious scruples against it, and recovering alcoholic being the first few that occur to me. As for the waiter, if this is really a "fine" restaurant then his job is to make the customer comfortable.

                                                                        1. I get more annoyed looks when ordering an inexpensive entree than no drinks or wine. We usu only drink water and I know that's not good for the resto revenue-wise but those are the breaks.

                                                                          1. Sometimes trying to get a simple glass of tapwater in a city known for very high quality water systems can be like giving birth to a Buick when they are pushing the $8 Pellegrino. (Boston, NY, and Denver come to mind; thank you, Chips Berry, the visionary head of Denver Water Board)

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                              I know. I actually LOVE NYC tap water.

                                                                            2. consider this...

                                                                              years ago i worked in a corporate chain steakhouse. we had a list of "service points" that we had to go through with every table. they would actually send in silent shoppers to review us wuth a checklist and we would be reprimanded if we forgot anything.

                                                                              one of those service points was to offer wine with dinner. to further that we were supposed to not ask, but inform the table that we are leaving them the wine list and will be back later to help them select a wine to accompany their meal.

                                                                              FURTHERMORE...the GM at our location decided he didn't want a seniority system and since liquor, wine, and beer (LWB) sales generated the most profit for the company, that was what he based preference on.

                                                                              here's how it worked: every month he would print off a list of all the servers and our LWB average check (total alcohol sales divided by number of guests served). then he would draw a line through the middle of the list. everyone above the line got the good shifts, better start times, etc. everyone below the line was at risk of losing a shift per week for the next month.

                                                                              my point is- in this case there was so much pressure on the servers to sell liquor, it caused resentment towards the tables that didn't drink. you should have seen the day the AA convention was in town!!! haha!! the whole restaurant full of pissed off servers fighting for coffee cups!!!

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                                Miss Miss:
                                                                                I found your comments "from the inside" quite interesting, and
                                                                                they are in fact worth considering, as ccweb suggests in his/her followup above.
                                                                                But it's not fair to solely blame the customer for hitting the unsweet spot of a
                                                                                bad management "algorithm" or policy.

                                                                                The customer has a certain relationship with the owner [reasonable to frown on
                                                                                only getting dessert at prime time, unreasonable IMHO to say no solo dining
                                                                                at prime time], a certain relationship with the server [ask for special accomodation
                                                                                -> higher tip], but asking us to change behavior based on how management policies
                                                                                affect the waitstaff is tough ... say management decides to waive corkage one day a
                                                                                week, or discount bottles ... those affect the bill and ostensibly affect your compensation.
                                                                                Maybe one "should" tip more generaously with the "free money" if bottles are 20% off
                                                                                some night, but I still think that's mostly between you and the management.

                                                                                1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                                  Jfood - "I'll start with the salad"
                                                                                  Server - "I'm sorry you need to order an app priced higher than that"
                                                                                  Jfood - "OK, I'll have the foie gras"
                                                                                  Server - And that comes with a glass of excellent sauterne"
                                                                                  Jfood - "Comes with?"
                                                                                  Server - "Yes it's a must order but there is a small $15 surcharge."
                                                                                  Jfood - "OK, for the entree i'd like the chicken"
                                                                                  Server - "I'm sorry but the two tables over there ordered the chicken and my manager will not let me sell three tables of chicken, but the steak is quite good and it's only an extra $12.
                                                                                  Jfood - "and what does the steak come with?"
                                                                                  Server - It comes with garlic mashed and an excellent glass of Burgundy."
                                                                                  Jfood - "Wow all that for an additional $12."
                                                                                  Server - "Not exactly, the steak is an additional $12 but the Burgundy brings the total to $32 more than the plain cicken."
                                                                                  Jfood - " So i wanted a salad and chicken and because your manager wants to increase per table and LWB, it will cost me close to $50 more."
                                                                                  Server - "That's right and might i sugsest a souffle for dessert that comes with an excellent Armagnac"
                                                                                  Jfood - "No thanks. And please cancel the order, Jfood is leaving."

                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    what?
                                                                                    haha- sounds like a nightmare i've had....or a bad SNL skit.

                                                                                    haha, no, not quite to that extent. but we were supposed to "assume everyone will have wine" same with dessert- don't ask if they want a dessert menu, just bring it. don't give them opportunity to say no. sales tactics. you can understand why i got out of that resto soon as i could. that company only cared about it's profits.

                                                                                    where i am now i have plenty of tables who do order wine- so im glad for a lower maintenance table once in a while.

                                                                                  2. re: excuse me miss

                                                                                    At least noone had large LWB sales that week :)
                                                                                    How did the GM draw the line that month?

                                                                                  3. YES! You are supposed to order wine, feel uncomfortable, flushed and bloated. You are also supposed to order foods you are allergic to, and don't enjoy the taste of . . .

                                                                                    * * * * *

                                                                                    OK, the real answer: You order what you want to eat and drink, and everyone else be damned!

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                      I can't get past the obscenely high markup on wine in restaurants.

                                                                                      1. re: foodstorm

                                                                                        i do agree foodstorm.. i can get the same bottle from bevmo for way less... but i will pay if it's worth it still....

                                                                                        the thing i can't get past at all is "bottle service" at a club. i remember back in the day when you didn't need "bottle service" or a table to get in.. but apparently club owners got wind of the small type of clubs that did this, and now a bottle of grey goose can be yours for only $200!!!! (if ur lucky)... sense the sarcasm? ack... that's just crazy...

                                                                                        1. re: kinipela

                                                                                          The really crazy thing is: $200 for the full bottle is a deal versus the charge for individual drinks. Figure about 20 1.25 ounce shots per bottle...at a club in NYC or SF, drinks are easily $10 or more each. That bottle service usually comes with mixers...so if you've got enough people to share the bottle with, its a good way to go. The thing bottle service made me realize, just as with wine, is that by the glass or by the drink is often the real scam. Not that I'm buying the $200 bottle of Grey Goose either, though.

                                                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                            >>Many of the most upscale restaurants (French Laundry/Per Se comes to mind) actually have non-alcoholic beverage programs.<<

                                                                                            What do they serve?

                                                                                            1. re: HickTownBarnaby

                                                                                              Which reply are you quoting?

                                                                                    2. This is a great thread! I recently took my boyfriend out for his birthday dinner. We aren't cheap, but we aren't picky with food so we usually always eat at bars or casual restaurants. I wanted to take him somewhere really nice for his birthday and we picked a great restaurant in Laguna Beach. Neither one of us really drinks wine, more of cocktail drinkers. I was horrified when we got to the restaurant and I found that I failed to do my research; beer and wine only! We both felt way to embarrassed to order beers, so we decided to order wine. I didn't want to appear inexperienced or cheap, so I just order the mid-priced wines. The wine was great and the server was helpful, but I wish I would have realized that you can't really worry too much about what the server thinks. I will keep this in mind for next time!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Anita Drink

                                                                                        Anita Drink (what a great name!), the server 'should' be there to please. They can recommend but the choice of anything is ultimately yours.

                                                                                        As to being 'supposed' to do anything, other than being an embarrassment or a boor or a thief, I am there to enjoy the dining experience. As long as I fulfill my part of the bargain with the restaurant, I can expect them to do the same.

                                                                                        And within that contract, I can order whatever I please.

                                                                                      2. We went to a fancy steak place, that people rave about here in Houston, for an anniversary dinner. Well, it was pricier than we had anticipated. We did get a mixed drink, at the bar, that we nursed for the HOUR it took to get a table, and paid at the bar. When we were seated it was a terrbile location and next to a draft, but we didn't complain. The waiter asked is we would like to start with an appetizer, and no, we did not (actually even if we could have afforded them we didn't see anything we really wanted) and we told him we were ready to order. We placed our meager order, in comparison to other tables around us, and he advised us on what kind of wine we should order. We again declined, DH doesn't drink wine and I was into it back then either. He gave us a dirty look, and the rest of the meal was downhill from there. We couldn't get any bread, that was being placed on every table, but ours. He would walk by us and actually turn his back as he passed. We had to grab a bus boy to go get us some bread, and the bus boy gave it to us, not our waiter. Our steak was over cooked, lukewarm, side orders wrong, but at that point we just wanted to get out of there. It was an awful experience and I still to this day feel like we were being snubbed because we didn't spend $300 on our meal. We spent more than we wanted to in the first place, as it was, and it wasn't worth that. We expressed our miserable experience, the next day, to the corporate office, as it was part of a local chain, and they graciously sent us a generous gift certificate to any one of their restaurants, but we have never gone back, even when we had the money too. You should not shame people because they don't want something, or can't afford something.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: danhole

                                                                                          How awful, danhole, and an anniversary dinner at that. Good on you that you brought it forward. You're absolutely right that the customer should be treated as a welcome guest not a money pit. The best restaurant experience in recent memory was at a BYOB (so we weren't buying the wine from them and if memory serves, there wasn't even a corkage fee) place that was packed.

                                                                                          The server was simply outstanding and since we were on vacation, it wasn't as if he would see us again. He was just what servers should be and that translated into just what I expect from a dining experience.

                                                                                          1. re: dolores

                                                                                            It was a milestone anniversary at that! But we weren't nasty about it, just stated the facts, and they were nice about it - after the fact. But we did give our waiters name, and I hope he was reprimanded. Thankfully this was out of the norm for us, but it still makes me not ever want to go to any of the restaurants affiliated with this certain chain!

                                                                                          2. re: danhole

                                                                                            That reminds me of a trip to Rio that we took many years ago. Strangely, the exchange rate had us living large at the time, so cost was not the issue it could be. Several other Americans at our hotel warned us about how they went to one popular restaurant and ended up with a bill that was something like $200. This was hard to believe, because you were able to eat filet mignon for $15 with the strong dollar at the time, so I asked more questions. Apparently, they didn't order off the menu and instead picked out their entrees from the platters of raw fish and steak that the waiters routinely presented to show the specials. They also got really dinged on the wine because they took the waiter's suggestion and never saw the wine list.

                                                                                            DH and I decided to try it, and our bill was something like $30. The help was just visibly mad when we insisted on ordering from the menu and the wine list, and they did their best to get us out of there. Same thing -- no bread, never looked at us. It was actually an amusing experience at the time, but it would have been awful if it had been a special anniversary. I feel for you.

                                                                                          3. You should not be forced into ordering anything you do not want to order. You are not going to order fish if you are allergic to it, so why would you order an item that makes you feel uncomfortable? Nobody should be forced to order something that they don't want or like. You should order what you want and not worry about anything except enjoying your meal.

                                                                                            1. I don't think anyone should be expected to order wine or any type of alcohol for that matter. My husband were very put off by the attitude of a waiter at a medium-priced chain restaurant. We had about an hour wait during which we had an appetizer and 2 drinks. By the time we arrived at our table, we just wanted an entree and water. The waiter just got snotty after that and consequently he received a very offensive tip.

                                                                                              1. I would love to see a server get annoyed when I don't order wine. Clearly, I have to start going to pricier places.

                                                                                                There's a provincial law here which states that, if you are serving drinks, you must provide both "food" and some non-alcoholic drinks. If anyone got really snarky with me, I would pull that out, in my sweetest manner. "Oh good heavens, I must be confused, I thought that in this town, consumption of alcoholic beverages is not prescribed. Since you feel so strongly, please bring me some grape juice, non-fermented."

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Pincus

                                                                                                  >> you must provide both "food"

                                                                                                  What an excellent idea! Not true in Westchester, NY, sadly.

                                                                                                  But as to the original question, a resounding NO! I would no more go back to a place which treated me in that manner than I will to the other places that treated me abysmally in the recent past.