Causing trouble again @EatingOurWords: How to send back a bottle of wine #ShitStorm

From the department of “I can already hear the massive shit storm brewing”…

From my post today for the Houston Press

A few months ago, when I was dining with family in a Houston restaurant (that shall remain unnamed), I ordered a bottle of Dolcetto, one of the classic food-friendly grapes of Piedmont, in northwestern Italy.

The server disappeared and swiftly returned with the bottle I had asked for. And presumably because I had asked for the wine list and had ordered the bottle of wine, he poured the first sip — the tasting sip — for me.

I swirled the wine in the glass, smelled it, smelled it again, and said matter-of-factly, “this is great. Thank you very much.”

And then he did something that transgressed the inherent social compact that exists between waiter and guest.

“Sir, taste the wine,” he said.

“The wine is fine,” I said politely, “please go ahead and pour it for our table.”

“Sir,” he insisted, “taste the wine.”

I looked at him incredulously.

“Sir, the other night, I had a customer who smelled the wine and said it was okay. But then, after he tasted the wine, he sent it back. So I have to ask that you taste the wine.”

When in Rome, I thought, do as the Romans do. And so I tasted the wine.

“It’s really great. I really like it. And it’s going to be great with our meal, I’m sure.”

Satisfied that the wine’s fitness had now been unquestionably verified and reaffirmed, he smiled and poured the wine.

This episode reminded me of how uncomfortable most people are when they are asked to determine the fitness of a bottle of wine at a restaurant.

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My chat @IsleWine @EatingOurWords @HoustonPress

Photo via Grub Street.

Beyond writing about wines under $25, my mission as wine writer at the Houston Press is to offer coverage of fine wine in Houston and Texas.

So what could be better than an interview with my friend Ray Isle, Houston native, who’s on his way to Texas next month for the Austin Food & Wine Festival?

You can read the interview here.

And here are his thoughts on Italian wine (topic of one his seminars) that didn’t make it into the Houston Press post:

    Cesanese was a discovery for me not too long ago (particularly the wines from Damiano Ciolli, who’s a very talented young guy). In fact, in general Central Italy fascinates me — it seems like it’s been a little bit bypassed, attention-wise. Marco Carpineti’s wine in the Lazio are great; a lot of Abruzzese wines are terrific (I think La Valentina’s Binomio bottling is a standout); and there’s been a crazy wave of good Lambrusco coming in, which has been a godsend for dinner parties, as far as I’m concerned. But what’s great about Italy overall at the moment is it seems as though you can’t go to an importer tasting and not run across a producer you’ve never heard of before who’s doing something ambitious and interesting.

Ray is such a cool guy… I’ve promised him a night of honkytonking while he’s out here. Ginny’s Little Long Horn Saloon, anyone?