Monday, April 8, 2013
Server says, "Let me take that wine away" and disappears
On our last pasta course, the server came over and asked, "How are you enjoying that?"
I answered honestly, "I hate this wine."
A 2003 Calabretta from Mount Etna, it was tired and tasted merely of ash, wood and tannin. Calabretta ages their wines for a long time in neutral oak tanks and Eric Asimov raved about the '02, calling it "lively, energetic and pure, with deep, rich mineral and fruit flavors." I guess the '03 was uninteresting because of vintage variation, but after reading Asimov's note, which bore no relation to the wine I tasted, now I wonder if it was flawed.
She said, "Let me get that away from you." She snatched the wine glass and disappeared. That was it. No replacement, no question, no conversation. Nobody ever asked why I hated it.
My wife and I were stunned. "Wow," was all we could say.
This is modern wine service, I suppose. Flour & Water isn't cheap, but it's selling a casual experience, not a formal one. And $45 for the wines I received was rather cheap, in the good sense, even with the one dud. The pours weren't generous, but most of the wines were interesting and went well with the food. I particularly liked the 2009 La Biancara di Angelino Maule "Pico," an orange wine with great mouth presence and flavors more like dried apples and mangos than what you expect from grapes, with the rabbit raviolini.
At a high-end place, I would expect the sommelier to offer a taste of something else I liked better with the final course. (I would have been happy with a small repour of the previous wine, the 2011 Cascina Val de Prete Barbera d'Alba.)
Here, I suppose they don't have any obligation to replace the wine, or even to discuss it. I didn't say the wine was flawed; I said I hated it. I was surprised by what followed, enough to blog about it. But I'm not sure what they should have done differently.
What do you think? Should the server have done something differently? Should I have?
Posted by W. Blake Gray at 7:21 AM