I went out to one of my lunch clubs on Friday. This is the one where there is (potentially) a large group of us, all of whom have worked together at some time or other, go out. We take it in turns to choose the restaurant.
Friday’s choice was in the City, and there were six of us. I won’t tell you the name; I don’t want to cause any embarrassment to anyone. The food was very good, although there were a few errors, but also, something that none of us understood, so I thought I’d make it the topic of this week’s blog.
I prefer white wine, although I will drink red, and rose, if it’s one I like. As I was the only white wine drinker on Friday, I opted for red too. The wine waitress (I won’t call her a sommelier, because, truthfully, I don’t think she was a proper sommelier) was at the wine station and poured a good old slug of our bottle into a glass and tried it. No asking first, mind you. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this (and, of course, we made all the usual jokes about changing jobs) but why? Our discussion in the restaurant was that it is pretentious nonsense. Is it?
I checked my wine books at home, and they didn’t help at all, so I turned to my friend, the internet to find the answer.
Apparently, once upon a time, the sommelier’s job was to test to see if there was poison in the wine (well, I suppose, that makes sense. The poor people like me wouldn’t be important enough to be poisoned, but the rich, well; they were at it all the time weren’t they? Murdering kings and princes, I mean. I’m sure there was a bit of a BOGOF offer going on, it was so rife.)
Nowadays, however, the role of the sommelier is to ensure that the wine is served in the right condition. And – and this is the bit that I find priceless – most of us plebs, sorry, consumers, do not have sophisticated enough taste buds to know if the wine is in perfect condition!!!!!!!
I have two comments to make about that – firstly, if they (sommeliers) don’t communicate with me and tell me what I am supposed to be looking for, how will I ever learn? Secondly, I’ve been drinking wine for a good many years, and, whilst I am by no means an expert, I’ve picked up a few things along the way. Such as, I know what I like. When I am paying £30 odd a pop for a bottle of wine, I think it’s my choice who tastes it, and I am more than capable of asking for help if I think I need it.
I am absolutely sure, all those high class waiters blanched when they saw us drinking red with scallops (not my preference, but I imagine they’d have been equally horrified if I’d ordered a bottle of white all to myself, and I flatly refuse to order wines by the glass in these places, even if that’s possible). But that doesn’t mean that we are heathens who have no knowledge about anything.
So come on you so-called high class restaurants, stop the wine waiters having a slug of someone else’s wine without their permission.
©Susan Shirley 2013