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Oct 18, 2007 06:35 PM

Wine spill - what would you do??

So, we were out to dinner with Mom, in a city not our own. Nice little Italian place, menu looked great, one of those little family places, owner Apulian. Things were going swimmingly, were enjoying some lovely Barbera d'Asti pre. The server brought our appetizers & since one of the dishes was just out of the wood-burner, offered to serve. She did so successfully till she got to me, then, que disastro - knocked over my glass of Barbera, all over me. Not usually one to make a fuss, I didn't. Server was very apologetic. I took off my (favorite, rose-colored silk) sweater, she blotted with club soda, we blotted. She comped my glass of wine, and 3 glasses of limoncello at the end of dinner. We enjoyed the rest of our dinner, paid fully, & tipped 20%, left.

Favorite sweater is ruined. No amount of post-prandial maneuvers were successful, dry cleaner does not think they will be, either.

I'm asking you, fellow diners, other servers, what would you have done, or would you do now? Replace sweater & send bill to restaurant? Would you have asked to speak to the manager before leaving? Made a huge fuss? Comped all/part of my meal? In many years of dining out, this has never happened to me before.

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  1. I would have poured a white wine over the stain. It actually works.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chinon00

      then they would have just comped the white wine and not the limoncello

      seriously, if a server ruins your clothes, they should have comped your meal and wine at least, and paid for a new sweater.

    2. It sounds like the server did everything she could at the time, and probably had no idea the item was ruined. Once the dry cleaner has had a go at it, I would take the sweater to the manager and ask for a replacement, while still giving the server props for dealing with the situation well. Be "as nice as pie" and chances are they will do everything they can to make you happy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        At this point you can only ask for a replacement. But if lightning stikes twice, try salt. I had guests spill red wine on a white carpet. We poured salt on the wine, let it dry, and vacummed it up. No stain. It works on tablecloths, napkins, whatever. Another thing that works, is Zout. This is a product similar to Spray and Wash, only stronger and better. It took care of red wine on a white sweater.

        1. re: mojoeater

          I was going to make the exact same suggestions as mojo.
          The server most likely had no way of knowing if the sweater was ruined forever. I would discuss with the owner manager and would hope that they would be accomodating. I'm not sure as to how far away you live, but you could also take pictures of the stain and email to the manager/owner if going in person is not an option.

        2. I wouldn't give up on the stain yet. (I love red wine and have experienced plenty of spills -- every single one came out, even after dry cleaning.) Wine Away works. Ammonia, Woolite and water, followed by white vinegar, has worked. A Borax/water solution works well (check Haley's Hints.) A automotive product called Dri-Clean (pink liquid in a spray bottle) also works well I've heard. Try these. Go slow, step by step, keep dabbing away.

          At the resto, I would have consulted with the manager immediately, and am surprised the server wasn't taught to ask the manager for guidance in situations such as these.

          In any case, I'd call and cordially explain the situation to the manager and the steps you are taking to solve the problem. Without question the restaurant should pay for the dry cleaning and any cleaning supplies. If the stain isn't removed (but I think it will be) then the resto should pay for a replacement sweater, or the depreciated cost of the sweater.

          1 Reply
          1. re: maria lorraine

            >>>At the resto, I would have consulted with the manager immediately, and am surprised the server wasn't taught to ask the manager for guidance in situations such as these.

            Without question the restaurant should pay for the dry cleaning and any cleaning supplies.<<<

            Agree on both of these pieces of advice. If the restaurant is good, it will rise to the occasion.

          2. Another wine-removal method here: former S.O.'s mother showed me a neat trick: pour boiling water through the stain. That is, gently stretch the stained fabric over a bowl to hold the water, then pour boiling water directly from the kettle through the stain. Works like a charm, but sometimes requires quite a bit of water. No chemicals involved.

            Not sure if your sweater's beyond that now, but I suppose if you're thinking of replacing it anyhow...

            Since the server acted appropriately and comped your drinks, I'd probably leave it at that. I'm not one to make a big fuss, and why bother calling in the manager over an accident? Things happen. If you want to bill them for a new sweater, go for it. I pretty much agree with mojoeater above.

            1. The stain is probably already set but try soaking the sweater in milk overnight. Worked marvelously for me w/ a linen blouse.

              Phone the manager, explain the situation and commend the server and ask for a replacement. It's not uncommon... accidents happen. Try being nice first. :-) Sounds like you've been VERY reasonable... kudos to you!

              (It's kind of the rule that hot anything sets a stain - clothes dryer or water. Ms. Martha Stewart has always advocated using cold, cold water if it's a fresh stain).