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A Stupid Man...

  • Joe H Apr 17, 2010 06:37 PM
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Tonight, with my wife out of town, I had dinner at the bar in one of the better restaurants in suburban Washington. Having travelled heavily for thirty years I thought it would be a real treat to have dinner at the bar-and then drive home and sleep in my own bed. The restaurant that I went to is not important. What is important is the lesson I learned. Because of my stupidity.

Both the menu and the forty page wine list were presented to me. There was a short list of both wines by the glass and also half bottles. I didn't want to order a full bottle because I was driving. I glanced at both, noted the $11 to 18 range of reds by the glass and the $30 to $200+ range of half bottles. I ordered a 2005 bordeaux whose name I had never heard before.

I need to mention here that I am something of a wine snob. I have over one thousand bottles stashed in closets, on racks and in EuroCaves around our house. My wife gardens. I drink. Most of what I have is for that end but I do have some first growths for investment from years such as 2000. I would like to believe that I am relatively sophisticated and have shopped, invested and drank intelligently. For years.

But I am stupid.

The sommelier-not the bartender, the sommelier-presented my half bottle of wine. He noted the '05 vintage, confirmed that it was what I had ordered and then after opening it presented me with the cork. I sniffed it. Then he poured a swirl into a glass, sloshed it around and noted it's correct color. I thought it looked thin, pale and cheap but didn't say anything other than uttering the monosyllable, "fine." He added that this was the last bottle they had, as if to confirm my judgment-others, many others, had wanted this also.

He poured more into my glass. After he left I tasted it. Swill. Serious swill. (Or, serious, swill!) I thought about complaining but for $40 I didn't want to make an issue out of it.

This restaurant is known for its bread course. The former baker had established something of a following with a number of breads and rolls that were among the best in the D. C. area. But not tonight. That baker has left following the founding chef to another restaurant. Tonight, I honestly thought that the free samples that Harris Teeter serves in some of its store were as good or better although I did like the butter.

There was no amuse despite the $12-20 first courses and $26 to $42 entrees. (I suppose that someone reading this will assume a value judgment on my part because of the way I am expressing this. You would be right.) My first course of asparagus soup was served. It wasn't very good. Nice color, aromatic but just not a lot of flavor. This was followed by a $32 halibut which, for all the world, tasted like what I would make from the frozen food case of Whole Foods. The six ounces or so of it was folded and laid on top of some kind of textural green emulsion that in three bites was gone. The halibut took several more to finish.

Forty minutes after sitting down I asked for the check. While waiting for the bartender (who never once topped my glass or served water until the end of the main course) I took another sip of the wine: swill was a kind appellation.

My check was for $132 and a few cents. I looked at it, noted $80 for a half bottle of wine and exclaimed, "I didn't order an eighty dollar bottle!"

As soon as I said this I noticed that the check was laying directly in front of the exact same bottle of wine as which the check correctly noted was $80.

I was wrong. Really wrong. Really stupid. When the wine was presented omniscient me had glanced at it, noted the 2005 vintage, that it was red (well, a faded red) and the name was French. All of this was correct. It was just a different French wine from what I had ordered.

But I didn't notice this. I said, "it was fine." When the sommelier poured and swirled and noted the color I said, "it was fine." He pointed out the label to me, "this is our last bottle." "That's fine."

I am a stupid man. Such a presumptuous, preoccupied fool that I couldn't even read that it was not the bottle that I had ordered. I was also wrong: I had accepted the wine, tasted it, drank it and whether or not I liked it, finished it. All complaining because it didn't taste like what I had expected it to taste like.

Of course not. Why should it? I had ordered a bordeaux and this was a burgundy.

Tonight I, a stupid man, learned a lesson. As I type this I can only thank goodness that it wasn't say, a bottle of '61 Lafite that I hadn't read the label of. That the check wasn't a thousand or more dollars. I was fortunate.

My real regret, stupidity aside, is that the restaurant had been disappointing. However with the mistake I made that which was served seems unimportant. Rather than I learned a lesson that I should have learned long ago. Now, approaching retirement, there is no excuse for not reading the fine lines...or a label.

Or pulling out my glasses to read what is on it.

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  1. I don't think you're stupid, Joe. Sometimes it's just too easy to go with the flow. Do you really feel like duking it out with the wine steward or waiter? Sometimes I'm up for it, sometimes I'm not. Don't beat yourself up.

    1. OMG, I read this and felt your pain and embarassment. And was also impressed with your humility. I got to the end and was stunned when I saw your name. Wow. Joe H, thanks for sharing this story. I think it teaches a couple of good lessons.

      1. Dude, you are way too hard on yourself.
        Did you at all research the restaurant you went to? Not to beat up on you (you're doing a great job of that yourself), as a Chow, you might consider doing some research in future. You might also consider calling or emailing the restaurant owner and telling him what happened. If he or she is upstanding, you should get some compensatory offer for your troubles.
        We all do stuff at times that's not representative of our finest moments. It happens. To all of us. In various ways. Move on.

        1. It was bad luck. 19 out of 20 times you will get the bottle you ordered, without the burden of proof being on you to verify it. This was the 1 in 20.
          Plus, there was a good chance the more expensive wine would have been better than your expectation of the one you ordered. But it wasn't . The old adage "measure twice, cut once" applies strangely to many daily activities.
          The wine sucked. The dinner sucked. You are happier with your wife at your side. You were a gentleman to let the mistake go quietly, and if a $40 "stupid tax" as I call it, is the worst of your year so far, you are doing better than most of us! Tomorrow will be better.

          1. Ouch. I've never ordered a $40 bordeaux and received an $80 burgundy but I've ordered a wine that was out of stock and agreed to the suggested replacement. Now, instead of "fine" I always say "oh, how much is that one?"

            But in your case the restaurant might have misheard your Chateau X order and brought Chateau Y, If you accept the bottle it's hard to send back after it's opened, but it's really too bad that you didn't get to enjoy the wine, thinking it was a bad bordeaux (if it were a good burgundy).

            1 Reply
            1. re: hsk

              Not trying it when the sommelier first poured it was one of the few small errors that was necessary for the bad experience to come about. It was just a meal. Planes crash because of a few small errors.

            2. Joe,

              If it is any consolation, many of us have been there before. I AM a wine_snob, and I know better - much better.

              Not that long ago, hosting some family and friends, I too was preoccupied. The talk at the table was on-going, and as our 3rd wine course, I ordered a particular wine. The list had both a Chard and a Cab by this producer. I pointed, and think that I specified the Cab, but who knows? The server brought the wine, and presented the unopened bottle. I quickly glanced at the producer, and waved an OK, to get back to my guests. He opened and poured. "What, this is a Chard, and I wanted the Cab... " My bad. He offered to take it away, but I refused. I had not been clear in my order, AND I had accepted the bottle, even with the wrong shape. I accepted that, but added the Cab. In the end, no wine was wasted, but I learned a lesson. Regardless of how preoccupied I might be, when presented with a wine, then is the time to stop, read, and digest what is in that bottle. In many cases, just the bottle's shape is a give-away. I messed up, and it cost me about US$135, but again, the wine did not go to waste. Lesson learned.

              I feel your pain, and am sorry that the rest of the meal did not make up for that wine. That would at least have been a bandage for the wound. In my case, the food was excellent, and the conversation was as good.

              Many of us have gone before, and do feel your pain. Also, sorry that the Burg was not a better wine too.

              Thanks for reporting,

              Hunt

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bill Hunt

                You're a good guy, Bill. If YOU can make a mistake like this, we all can.

              2. Joe, I tip my hat to you... too often these days people want to blame others for their mistakes, but not you. I give you credit for not blaming the restaurant or sommelier. You are a gracious and humble man, to be sure.

                ps. I'm sorry this happened to you. If there was a mistake and you accepted the wrong wine, I think you at least deserved for it to be an *amazing* wrong wine, especially if it was 2x what you were planning to spend.

                9 Replies
                1. re: purple bot

                  I agree that Joe is a gentleman, but I disagree that he handled it correctly. At the very least, he should have told them that that he ordered a different wine, and that while he was willing to take responsibility for not noticing and would pay for it, that the sommelier had made a mistake.

                  I really think you let them off the hook too easily. This is an expensive restaurant, which means not only is the food supposed to be good, but the service is supposed to be good. It wasn't. They needed to know that. Part of what you're paying for when you pay a restaurant's mark-up for wines is the skill of the sommelier. You didn't get that. You let them get away with crappy food and crappy service, which does a dis-service to everyone who eats there in the future. If it was struggling little venture then I wouldn't necessarily take a lousy meal out on them, but it sounds like this restaurant is anything but and deserved to be told a few home truths.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Ruth,

                    That is a very close call, as Joe did agree to the wine, when presented. That was his opportunity to decline and point out the mistake. There were two mistakes made, regarding the wine. With that, there was culpability on both party's part.

                    Now, had the situation been discovered early on, maybe the sommelier would have made an offer to change the wines.

                    I have benefited from such mistakes, and "buyer's remorse" from others. Many local sommeliers know to make me offers, that I cannot refuse. Had a DRC in a B-T-G offerings, as the person ordering saw the price, after having had the bottle opened, table-side, and the sommelier "ate" that bottle. Now, he recouped some cost, by offering it in B-T-G, and did sell 3 (out of 4) glasses to our table. Still, had we not been dining, not sure that that many other diners would have jumped on the offering, regardless of the price. For me, it was a win-win, and for the house, it was a win-win, as they possibly sold the bottle for what they paid, and made a diner, who did not know what he was ordering, happy.

                    This particular slope gets very slippery in a hurry.

                    Unfortunately, in Joe's case, it appears that the error was not discovered until the bill arrived. That presents another problem - timing. It would be like a diner returning an empty plate, and complaining that the food was inedible. Even the chef could not tell what had been on that plate.

                    I'd not be too hard on the restaurant in this case. It was not until it was too late, that things might have come to light.

                    As I pointed out, up-thread, Joe is not alone. Many of us have been in that same seat at the bar (or at the table), and some have handled it, as Joe did. I feel for Joe, but do not feel that he handled things badly. Had I been in his spot, I think that I would have done things, just as he did, and chalked it up to not being 100% attentive, when the opportunity availed itself to me - been there - done that. In my cited instance, it was a US$ 150 mistake, but MY mistake. Yes, the server did present the wrong wine, but at that instant, I took charge and became responsible. My bad.

                    In most cases, restaurants are not out to screw their patrons. Servers might try to sell up, in some houses, but for the most part, they want the customer to have a wonderful experience. Yes, they do mess up, but who does not?

                    To end - Joe, I feel for you, and understand your issue. I think that you did the correct thing. We all learn from little incidents like this. It does not kill us, so it makes us better, and prepares us for the next restaurant visit. Just sorry that the rest of the meal was not up to par. THAT is an issue.

                    Good luck,

                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I didn't say he shouldn't pay for it, though, just that he should have expressed his justifiable dissatisfaction with his experience at the restaurant. It's nice that you and Joe are apparently able to shrug off a bad meal that costs over $100/person, but most people when they spend that expect the entire experience is going to be worth the investment. At the price range that Joe described, I expect more than just someone putting my food in front of me and bringing me a bottle of wine. I expect to be taken care of; I expect the restaurant to *want* to take care of me. That's in large part what I'm paying for when I pay $30 for an entree that might be $20 at a more humble establishment. If someone had bothered to check back in with Joe, and if Joe had said, look, I know I okayed this bottle, but it tastes like "swill," the mistake might have been caught earlier and the situation could have been salvaged.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        My sincere appreciation to everyone who has taken the time to respond to this. Unfortunately-for me-I had several opportunities to reject or question the wine and, as Bill noted, I ignored them. When I ordered the wine I specifically ordered a bordeaux but the bartender who took my order was not the person who served it. It was the sommelier. He correctly presented the wine, specifically noted the label and confirmed that it was what I had ordered before opening it. I just didn't pay the attention that I should have. After he poured the wine I thought the color was terrible. For a bordeaux it was; for a burgundy it probably was fine. Certainly, the taste was representative of a burgundy and not a bordeaux. But, Ruth, as far as the sommelier was concerned he was serving me the exact wine that I had ordered. The bartender? Nowhere to be found. It was really up to me to read and confirm the label and I didn't do this. I also should have realized that no bordeaux would taste like a burgundy (!).

                        The food is another matter. Before the check was presented I had been disappointed in the meal. My comments above were honest and based on what I experienced before receiving the check. The problem however,is that it may appear that I am overly critical of the food that I was served-and the restaurant-because of the wine. But I am not. I was critical before the wine ever became an issue. Frankly, if I was going to say anything it would have been about the halibut which was a huge disappointment. But similar to the situation with the wine I just didn't want to make an issue out of it.

                        Ruth, I miss the $160 (including tip) this 45 minute dinner at the bar cost me. Trust me, I really do!!! But I really did learn a lesson. Unfortunately it really is a lesson I should have learned a long time ago.

                        I thought quite a bit about the title of this post. "A Stupid Man" for me is as cathartic as it is anything else. Perhaps I am even rationalizing the $160 as a kind of Chowhound therapy if you will! Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts.

                        1. re: Joe H

                          Joe,

                          When we get to wines, Ch. Cache Flowe might end up as Ch. Cash Flow. It's happened to me, and in most cases, I've caught it, and then found the Bin# to help the server, sommelier, or not. I just wish that your Burg had been better, though PN vs Bdx blend.

                          As for the food - that is a tragedy.

                          Thanks for baring your soul on this one. You have owned up to some of the issues with the meal. It is too bad that the restaurant did not help you out with the rest. One half-bottle, that is not what was specified is one thing, but bad food is another.

                          Sorry that it came to that.

                          Hunt

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Ruth,

                          Sorry that I misunderstood your post. I do agree. Payment would be mandatory, but displeasure should be stated.

                          Mea culpa, mea culpa,

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Re:"swill" - It might have been complicated by various food - wine interactions, how much the wine had to breathe etc...

                            1. re: limster

                              This string is absolutely an example of the Best of Chowhound. When I first read Joe's post, it was so painful (because so familiar) I didn't want to revisit. But because all the responders were so...intelligent, for lack of a better word...I couldn't resist coming back. I can't think of a Chowhound string that better represents the honest/decent/generous tendencies of the Chowhound community. Congratulations to one and all.

                              1. re: Masonville

                                I agree, and I think it's due to the tone of Joe's post: no ego, no sense of entitlement, just a kind of plaint from where we have all been at one time.

                    2. Joe, if that is the worst you did with a solo trip to town then you have nothing to worry about :)

                      1. Not stupid at all. If you think that someone as seasoned as you didn't catch the error, think about how many regular customers wouldn't (and haven't). What about people, like tourists, who don't read English/French? Personally, I often order wine w/out knowing the name, just by type and description, recommendation. At this point, though, I'm throwing out the idea that you might want to warn the rest of us Washington schlubs about the place so we also don't similarly get fooled. Your word is well respected and this type of service/food should be noted.

                        1. I saw the title of this thread and thought, "Is my brother-in-law on Chowhound?"

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jmckee

                            Joe, showing up at an airport on the wrong day for a transoceanic business flight is stupid, and I am that man. Seriously, though: much touched by your post, and your refreshing honesty. Agree with Bill Hunt that payment was mandatory, but so should have been a statement of displeasure. When not missing an occasional flight, I've been know for some stupid restaurant gestures --like the time, years ago, at one of those long-gone Basque places in San Francisco. I confidently told my tablemates that the unlabeled house red was probably a modest Tempranillo, and the cheese course a youngish Pyrenees sheep's milk. Of course, the wine turned out to be a Valley of the Moon Sonoma jug, and the cheese, as per our server, a "very special" Wisconsin blend of swiss and jack. These facts were made known to our whole table. We then had more wine. And it was delicious. Cheers.

                            1. re: bob96

                              Thank you sir for the really nice words. Your's was a great story too!

                              1. re: bob96

                                Bob,

                                I've shown up at the airport for a PHX to DEN flight, that I booked myself, a day early. Not quite the same magnitude, and UAL was cool and switched things around at no charge. Still, feels really bad, when that happens.

                                Now, my biggest faux pas was when we had three trips scheduled, with restaurant reservations for each. We had to cancel two trips, and I called each restaurant to apologize. Confused a Chicago restaurant with Boston (the trip we were able to take), and had to call later on to REALLY apologize, as I stood them up, and that is just not my style. Let's say that I had a lot of Chicago "egg" on my face.

                                To Joe,

                                You did well, and were an honorable client. Your experience will help others in time.

                                Hunt

                            2. Joe- Don't feel bad. I've got a 'wine snob' friend who actually does this on a regular basis. I've seen him allow a bottle of white wine to be opened (After being presented and 'examined' by him) even though he ordered a bottle of red. Really, this happens more often than you think! Perhaps you should invite me to dine with you as I have very good eyesight and a keen sense of detail; and will enjoy drinking almost any wine, even if strangely colored and off-tasting.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: maddogg280

                                Thank you, maddogg280 and Bill; really enjoyed your comments.

                              2. Jfood is not a drinker so he has no dog in this hunt (no pun intended for the NOLA - PHX Mr Hunt) but scratches his head a teeny bit.

                                First, please do not beat yourself up, if the worst thing you ever do is drink a non-recognizable $80 half bottle of wine, life is good.

                                And jfood learned something on this thread so he thanks you. Now he knows that the process of showing the bottle and the customer taking a taste fully transfers the risk of mistake from restaurant to customer. Nice.

                                At the very least, jfood would recommend calling and explaining the situation to the restaurant. At a minimum there was a process error within the restaurant and the MOD should be aware of this. Who knows, maybe they will offer you something although given the level of expertise on this thread and the pretty common theme, jfood would not expect it. Likewise with the food quality, you may not even want to go back. But at least you can see if the restaurant is into good karma.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jfood

                                  "Jfood is not a drinker so he has no dog in this hunt (no pun intended for the NOLA - PHX Mr Hunt) but scratches his head a teeny bit."

                                  As usual, and with none intended, you managed to dump a bunch of great "zingers," all in the first line, or two. Made my evening and thank you for it.

                                  Hunt

                                2. We've all made some kind of costly mistake like this, in a restaurant or elsewhere, and had to eat the cost due to our mistake. that stings (and stinks), and you'll probably never forget it, but you're not alone. To follow it up with a bad meal when you just wanted this one nice evening out, I know how that feels, too. I tried to have a meal like this once while traveling at a popular restaurant I had read about but did not have a book to read, and had hoped to engage the bartender or others at the bar in conversation. They insisted I sit at a table, by myself, and I felt completely embarrassed the whole time. Nobody to talk to and waiters coming by clearly to check out the chick by herself, it was really uncomfortable. I should have insisted on sitting at the bar and it's my mistake for not doing so. And the meal turned out to be not that great either. The restaurant was filled with couples and groups all talking and laughing and I was the only solo diner, I felt like a weirdo.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                    Why on earth would you feel like a "weirdo" for simply eating at a table by yourself? I've done this countless times and never thought anything of it.

                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      I used to wait tables, we had many solo diners at tables. Thing was, they were mostly men. It seems men feel much more comfortable dining alone. I was always happy when I saw a woman dining alone and seeming comfortable and unapologetic doing it. Don't feel like a weirdo! If the waiters were checking you out, maybe it was actually with admiration!

                                      1. re: visciole

                                        I've covered this endlessly in another thread but I am just not comfortable dining out by myself. I like to make conversation with those around me. If I know I'm going to eat solo, I'd prefer to eat in private - in my hotel room or in my office or whatever. Telling someone they "should" be more comfortable doesn't make it so. I'm glad others are comfortable doing it, I'm just not. I'd just rather dine with people than alone, and if I'm alone I'd rather be really alone. Particularly in a very lively restaurant where everyone is talking and laughing, if you're sitting morosely by yourself or trying with futility to bury yourself in a newspaper or magazine with all the noise around you, it's just not my scene.

                                        The waiters were admiring all right, but not in a way I wish to be admired. If I'm looking to be admired like that, I'll dress provacatively and go clubbing.

                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                          rockandroller1, below is the link to a post of mine from a long time ago. But this is much more about an experience I once had at a bar and less about the restaurant (San Francisco's Gary Danko). I've sat on far too many bar seats having dinner from 30 years of heavy travel but once in a great while I've been fortunate to have an evening like this. I rarely if ever sit in the dining room; usually preferring to talk to someone around me. (Another topic is making a reservation for one at at a better or starred restaurant in Europe and showing up solo on Friday or Saturday night with only five or six tables in the room and,I the only solo diner.) I enjoy restaurants like Seasons 52 (Florida, Atlanta, elsewhere) because the food is good, there are sixty or so wines by the glass and it is social. I've also picked Seasons 52 over another restaurant just because I didn't want to sit at a table myself.

                                          I've been fortunate to have had a number of wonderful experiences many of which I've been able to return to and repeat with my wife. Some of these I've written about on here. Still, as someone who has travelled for a long time on business, I agree with you. Please take a look at the link below: every trip should have an evening like this.

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1650...

                                          1. re: Joe H

                                            Great post. See what can happen when you sit at the bar? If/when I'm in that position again (all business travel has been halted for quite awhile where I work), I will of course insist on the bar. As an aside, the restaurant where I had the solo experience was also in DC, but don't ask me to name it as I can't remember!

                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                              rockandroller1, are you in any way involved with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? We have close friends in Cleveland and Sandusky (Cedar Point-I sell roller coasters and amusement park rides. Serious). You have a great handle. A great handle!

                                              Puttin', struttin', jiving, striving, thriving and arriving...
                                              Easing the pain with rock and roll gain...

                                              1. re: Joe H

                                                Thanks! Not involved with it, though I do live in Cleveland, and was at the opening of the hall and went to the concert for the hall of fame when it opened as well.

                                    2. Joe, I'm sure I've made more stupid wine mistakes than anyone, but, the sommelier knew he had you when you sniffed the cork.
                                      Sorry,
                                      CocoDan

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: CocoDan

                                        +1.

                                      2. This is why I have taken to always (before the wine is opened) pointing to the wine list and asking the waiter/sommelier "Now this is the one I ordered. Is this wine you've brought me?" That seems to have forestalled most of the nonsense that I use to run into along the lines of what you describe in this sad, sordid tale of expensive life tuition.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          This is one reason that I like a wine list with Bin Numbers. That takes some of the guesswork out of the mix. Now, even with those, I have been presented with the "blanc" version, when I wished the red, or vice-versa. At that point, I will mention that "no, I want the Bin Number 2050, and not the Bin Number 2230." At least the onus is placed on the server.

                                          Hunt

                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            Bill, a really interesting observation. Ordering the bin number really does seem to eliminate the possibility of the kind of mistake that I made.

                                            1. re: Joe H

                                              Joe,

                                              It helps me, as I am from Mississippi, so English is my "second language." Especially with some wonderful French and Italian wines, I'd rather not get into a battle of pronunciations, though I know most pretty well already. It is easier, and often more efficient to just say "we'll have a bottle of Bin XXXX," and be done with it. [On a recent trip to Hawaii, I cannot describe the sommelier's pronunciation of Puligny-Montrachet. If I did not know the wine, I would NEVER have filled in the blank. Still, "Bin XXXX" takes the guesswork and pronunciations out of the picture.

                                              Unfortunately, not all wine lists have a Bin #, so then one is left to the pronunciations, pointing, and possibly knowing that that producer also does a white, along with the red, that is requested, and then one has to find another denominator for the particular wine - vineyard, village, sub-appelation, whatever.

                                              Hunt

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                Bill, your post really made me laugh. I was in Beaune, FR a couple of months ago and tried to order some Montrachet. I think I must have used that Hawaiian version. Boy!! they set me straight; I ended up pointing. I’ve been practicing my pronunciation ever since.

                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  Bill, for me pointing works better than my almost non existent French and, most importantly, it puts the onus back on the restaurant staff to acknowledge that they have brought me the correct wine. So, later if there turns out to be a problem I am not on the hook for any up charge that may be involved. It's an easy one sentence solution. Is this wine? (pointing at bottle in waiter/sommlier hands) this wine? (pointing at wine list selection I made). And, (even if it's not true) the restaurant employees ought to be more knowledgeable (and accountable) about and for their wine list and cellar than I am.

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    Yes, pointing, or a Bin number works well, or should. Considering that I am from Mississippi, English is my second language, and French... well not so much. At least I have most of my wines down, as I drink so many of them, but when it gets to some vineyards, and sub-apps/villages, things can get wonky.

                                                    I have a great memory for wines, especially ones that I have ordered, so I am usually in a good position to pass/fail on the presented wines - if I am paying attention. [Grin]

                                                    Now, some of the servers' pronunciations leave me snickering, though totally under my breath. No need to correct the server, or the sommelier, especially as I am from Mississippi!

                                                    Hunt, having fun in this thread.

                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      An interesting thread since my wife and I are currently "binging"on the Gulf Coast of Florida and have done our best to scour numerous wine lists while spending over an hour in a great wine shop, B-21 on Highway 19 outside of Tarpon Springs. Excepting Holmes Beach's highly rated and iconic special dining room of character Beach Bistro (one of the most unique, atmospheric and special of any room I have been in on this side of the Atlantic) much of what we have had over the past six days has been a huge disappointment. This includes Cafe Ponte which is raved about in Tampa Bay, Salt Rock Grill and Guppy's on Indian Rocks and an adjacent beach as well as a lengthy stop at Hella's in Tarpon Springs. The BeachBistro is a great restaurant and dining experience. Period. Truly out of the way and spectacularly worth every foot of every mile that you have to travel to get there, Also, an '05 Arrowwood cab for $60 on the menu which is only a 50% markup-a remarkable buy. Several great dishes including wild mushroom creme brulee, bacon ice cream (yes bacon ice cream-I am known on here for my 45 year old White Mountain freezer whose canister and blades have never seen soap but have known a lot of rock salt and ice over the years-along with pasteurized heavy cream and crushed hazelnuts, fresh cinnamon from a stick and caramel from scratch with butter toasted chopped pecans. The Beach Bistro's was exemplery ice cream, memorably unique and worth every calorie. Shrimp Mosca equal to the Waggaman original, a very good corn pudding soaked in butter, exemplery key lime pie and yes, truly mediocre bouillibasse which they believe to be really good. But, honestly, is not. I know a bit about bouillibasse having made it for 30 years and making my own fish fumet, chasing my wife out of the kitchen since I use heads and frames and toss them all in olive oil and butter along with leeks, celery, onion, garlic and fennel. I've also been fortunate to search for the best on the French Riviera which is actually quite hard to find, a "traditional bouillibasse." This is my post about it from two years ago:
                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/485636

                                                      1. re: Joe H

                                                        Wow, sounds very interesting. Have not spent much time in those environs, since my youth, and that was so very long ago.

                                                        Still, one of my fav. books is the wine list from Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, a leather-bound volume. We got two, and gifted one to a good friend, who had a satellite office there in the '80s, and had been, but never got his copy of the list. The very least that I could do for him, being a wino.

                                                        Enjoy, and please offer up a complete review of this trip. Travel safely.

                                                        Hunt