After the server has introduced herself to the table, and shared the many seasonal specials of the day, the Sommelier approaches the table to assist in a wine selection. What follows is an actual verbal exchange that I engaged in one evening:
“Good evening, may I assist you in a wine selection?” says the Sommelier.
“Yes, I would like a French Prosecco,” says the well-dressed female diner.
“I’m sorry we do not have Prosecco, we do have our own local Sparkling Wine we label as Isle,” explains the Sommelier.
“No, I don’t want Sparkling Wine, I will have a glass of French Champagne instead,” says the diner.
Sommelier then explains, “We offer only award-winning North Fork of Long Island, Comtesse Thérese wine.”
The diner then spat, “Fine, I will have a glass of Pinot Grigio!”
Sommelier replies, “I’m sorry we do not have Pinot Grigio.”
“Then WHAT do you have?!” says the diner clearly annoyed.
“Please take a look at our Comtesse Thérese wine list,” Sommelier politely suggests.
Diner looks at page 2 of our menu, “If you are sooo local why do you have wine from Hungary and Russia?”
Sommelier then stifles a laugh and explains, “We use Hungarian, Russian in addition to French, oak barrels to ferment and age our wines.”
“Hmmm, you have many Merlots, I don’t like dry wine, is this Russian Merlot dry?” Diner is now visibly frustrated with the Sommelier. Mind you this exchange is during the height of service on a busy Saturday night!
Sommelier offers, “Let me help you complement your dinner with the perfect wine, what are you going to enjoy for an entrée?”
With a visible roll of her eyes, diner says, “fine, I will have the scallop special.”
Sommelier replies, “Wonderful, we have the perfect wine to complement that dish.” Pan-seared scallops made in a curry and sauternes reduction infused with saffron served with herbed basmati rice and sprinkled with fresh pomegranates. A seasoned Sommelier can almost predict a person’s palate. “Here you go, try this, a taste of our ’08 Blanc de Noir, off-dry 1.5% residual sugar, salmon in color and has a nose of full ripe peaches.”
After the diner took her first sample sip she replied, “WOW, this is really good, why didn’t you just tell me about this wine in the first place?!!”
Sommelier at this point wanted to use the corkscrew in her pocket to drill a hole in her head to release the sheer frustration of dealing with these fabulous diners. Lesson being: your Sommelier is there to assist you in your wine selection, we want you to enjoy a fine dining experience, complementing your food choice with the perfect wine. “Trust your Sommelier, we are there to insure you will enjoy a ‘fine DINING experience,’ not to have a wine DUELING experience.”
Dianne Delaney is the Sommelier at Comtesse Thérese Bistro, 739 Main Road, Aquebogue. 631-779-2800. email@example.com
She has made her “passion her profession” since living in Spain as a teenage foreign exchange student. Prior to that her food experiences were Hamburger Helper, Hi-C, frozen veggies in a bag and Pop Tarts. Wine experiences were stolen sips of Riuniti “on ice, that’s nice” during adult gatherings.