Friday, 19 August 2011
I hate this ritual. It's awkward and odd and has no place in all but the very best restaurants.
95% of wines are okay. In the restaurants I frequent, 99.5% of them are okay. Most are screw-top, and modern bottling procedures are such that even cork-stopped wines are usually always as they should be.
But still, we have to go through with the tasting. What is the point?
Traditionally, when one person is paying the bill, that person is asked by the sommelier/waiter to taste the wine. Not because of their inherently superior knowledge, but because it re-inforces the hierarchy of their position as bill-payer. You might be breaking bread as equals, but some are more equal than others.
We wait for the bill-payer to say the wine is good enough to drink, then it can be shared among us lesser mortals.
In terms of real, genuine practical effect, the only thing this obviates is the pouring of bad wine into more than one glass.
It's out of date. I don't like it.
Hmm I think, as I take a sip doesn't taste corked, but I'm hardly having an epiphany here... in fact... it tastes exactly like the second cheapest wine on the menu, which is, funnily enough, exactly what I ordered.
The waiter knows it's bog-standard supermarket screw-top plonk with a 400% mark-up, and so do I. He's now been waiting exactly five seconds for me to say something, which is far too long to comment on what I already knew would be okay. Why are we doing this?
"Lovely" I say, failing to make eye contact with the waiter, or my dining companions.
Let's stop this now. In future, I'll order the wine. You bring it.
If there's a problem, I'll let you know.