Top 12 restaurant wine gripes

Wines too hot or too cold

A complaint that came up again and again in our research. Wine temperature is a much misunderstood and much neglected subject – that counts on both the customer and the restaurant side. One respondent foamed with frustration at the common experience of ordering a white wine that should be served chilled and finding it’s been kept at ambient temperature, then shoved unceremoniously into an ice bucket, “so it’s pretty much undrinkable for the next 20 minutes”.

Similarly annoying, one fortified wine lover said, was an apparent inability of some restaurant to serve Port at the right temperature. Those restaurants should take note: warm Port does not a happy Port-drinker make.

That’s only the start of it though. Champagne that hasn’t been chilled properly was declared an outrage; ditto a fine white that’s served ice cold, robbing it entirely of aromatics; same goes for reds crudely served at ambient temperature (an even bigger crime during summer months) when they really need to be several degrees cooler.

It’s the sommelier’s job be prepared and ensure that these little nuances are observed. If they fall short, you should take you custom elsewhere.

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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