Top 12 restaurant wine gripes

In a restaurant setting, the path to vinous pleasure should be simple: sit down, order, sup, enjoy. In reality, many restaurants seem intent on frustrating us. Gibberish-filled wine descriptions, dodgy glassware, wines that are sweatily warm or flavourlessly cold, waiting staff who haven’t a clue what they’re talking about – that path is beset with obstacles.

But then, maybe that’s unfair on the trade. It’s true that the more customers know about wine, the more difficult they tend to be to please. And the less the customers know, the more difficult their wishes are to decipher. Perhaps the sommelier’s task is an impossible one – one customer’s attentive service is another’s endless fussing; a professed hatred of Sauvignon Blanc is promptly followed by an order of a glass of Sancerre – what is one to do?

Into this minefield of wine propriety we now tiptoe. We’ve sourced responses from our followers on Facebook and Twitter, as well as colleagues working in the trade (some of whom almost literally leapt at the chance of being able to vent their spleen), to bring you a selection of the biggest gripes associated with drinking wine in a restaurant.

If you have one that isn’t included, feel free to vent your spleen in the Comments section.

2 Responses to “Top 12 restaurant wine gripes”

  1. pippa Hayward says:

    From a former restaurateur/sommelier (albeit with a reputation for a fairly priced and well chosen list) –
    yes the wine has to contribute to the restaurant’s running costs -which in the Uk and in stand alone restaurants without the benefit of the large margin you can make on room sales – are considerably higher than mainland Europe. If restaurants excused wine from contributing to running costs menus and food prices would have to rise to make the shortfall up . This is not rocket science.
    There is perception amongst some customers that restaurants don’t add any value to wine(in the way that a chef does to ingredients) but a good wine recommendation can make a meal
    Restaurants do have a duty of care to their customers and wines – to provide a carefully chosen selection, sold in a helpful , informative and kindly way with the sensitivity to make the right recommendation in style and budget for every client. Sommeliers are highly trained professionals -customers should expect to pay for their advice as part of wine pricing.
    Our own decision to make a far smaller margin on more expensive wines ensured that we sold those wines and that customers felt they were treated fairly .

    Then there is the question of training – restaurant staff should be taught how to serve wine correctly , not overfill glasses and be aware of the correct temperature -it’s simply part of good service .

  2. Jack Keenan says:

    I find that when I am presented with a bottle of white wine in a fine restaurant, and I taste and approve the wine and the vintage it is invariably too cold. The sommelier then begins to put the bottle in a bucket of ice or a “cold tube.” I say “No!, please it is too cold just leave it on the table.” The sommeliers invariably then say “thank goodness, you know wine…we hate to put it on ice, but most patrons insist!”

    Cold is the enemy of flavour!

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