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Overheard at the Liquor Store


Stretch
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Overheard in the wine at at the local safeway:

Person #1--What kind of wine is rose?

Person #2--It's just red and white wines mixed together, at least that's how I always make it.

Person #1--Ohhh.

This is damn funny! I am going to laugh about it all day. Thanks!

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About 20 years ago, when the white zin craze was at a much higher peak than it is today, I was managing at Angeli restaurant in LA. We had a waiter, Julie, who was a tiny girl, and a dancer. She was all of 5' and maybe 85 or 90 pounds.

One day these two big biker dudes got seated in her section. She was trying to sugest a wine for them. They were rude and condescending to her, so she gave up. I was about to intervene but she finally got them to pick a wine and they chose Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel Late Picked (well it might have been Pagani now that I think of it...).

Julie got the wine and presented it to them. They didn't even stop for a second to look at her but, dismissively, wave her to open it and pour it. She pours a taste and they again dismiss her... "Just pour the shit!" was their chaming response. Julie has now turned dark red. She has also developed that glint in her eye that I always tried to avoid provoking as her boss.

The jerks finally picked up their glasses and go to sip "that shit". They are taken aback that this wine is actually red! They snapped their fingers at Julie, who was pouring water at the adjacent table.

"This shit is red!"

"Yes!" replied Julie.

"Zinfandel is that pink shit!"

"THIS ......... IS ......... RED" growled Julie, now standing all 60 inches of her height, straight as a ramrod.

The biker dude was looking at her and said "I wanted the pink shit."

Julie now moved the water pitcher close to his head. Whether her intention was to give him a cooling shower or to kong him over the head with it, I was beginning to feel quite sorry for him. Julie was staring him down with one hand on her hip, the pitcher waving at his head and her eyes closed to mere slits. Well actually he was so tall and she so tniny that she was looking up at him slightly... but I digress.

The biker dude showed, at first, anger on his face. Contempt then appeared. This wisely and quickly melted into meekness. Finally, with a sheepish tone, he muttered to his friend "Guess we'll be drinking the red shit."

"Yes you will" said Julie sweetly, before performing a half turn on her toes and walking away with her dancer's grace.

They wound up tipping her $40 on a $100 tab.

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The biker dude was looking at her and said "I wanted the pink shit." 

And I thought this story would end with her pouring the water up to the tippy top of their wine glasses and declaring "here ya go, now it's pink." :lol:

Edited to add: Which is why it's a good thing I was never a waitress.

Edited by crackers
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And I thought this story would end with her pouring the water up to the tippy top of their wine glasses and declaring "here ya go, now it's pink."  :lol:

And stirring a tablespoon of sugar into the glass. Then it really would have tasted like white zinfandel.

Edited by zoramargolis
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This thread is making me weep. :lol:

I have been told that, many years ago, Peter Pastan at Obelisk was forced to "make" rosé in the kitchen because some guest demanded White Zinfandel. I have no idea what wines that Peter actually used were, but the customer was apparently satisfied.

I have too many horror stories, but one that still makes me scratch my head is the guy who refused to buy a close-out bottle of Meridian wine because he read the label, and in very small print, it says that it was aged in French oak (this was during the early days of the Iraq war) and he refused to have anything to do with French products. :P

I think he was exactly the type of person who, when Universal Studios released "The Last Temptation of Christ" into movie theatres, decided to get "even" with Universal by cancelling his pre-order of "E.T. The Extraterrestrial" which was due to debut on videotape at the time. Sure pal, punish your kids.

But I digress.

I love the customer who recently told me that she wanted me to send her a Shiraz in the $10-15/bottle range, so I picked one from Penfold's which fit the criteria, and she got upset with me because I hadn't sent her Yellowtail (aprox. $6) Forget the fact that she didn't ask for it, and that Yellowtail doesn't match that criteria - apparently, my job description entails that I also be "The Amazing Kreskin" as well!

Idiots.

If I had the time, I'd start a blog akin to the excellent Waiterrant.net (if you haven't read it, it's well-worth a look).

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Overheard at brunch this morning:

Waiter: "A guy at table X wants this cocktail. He said it has, um, rye whisky and Perdon."

Bartender: "You mean Pernod?"

Waiter: "Um, yeah, I guess."

Bartender consults crib sheet behind the register, looks puzzled. "Okay, let me go look it up on the Internet."

At this point, he drops off our check, and I make some comment about difficult drink orders. His response: "Yeah, I've never even heard of rye whisky."

We thought about waiting around to see what was going to happen, but figured it was best if we left before things got scary. :lol:

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I was volunteering at the VA wine fest a few years ago, pouring at the Chrysalis table with a friend of mine. We were pouring Norton, Viognier and a Rose called "Sarah's Patio Red" which I believe is 100% Norton. Not too bad, but regardless.....

You know the scene: A couple comes up and they have their "Make Mine Virginia Wine!" glasses in their necklaces - the kind that is a piece of leather on a string that holds the wine glass so they are free to mow down on a chili dog, funnel cake, or whatever else so delightfully pairs with virginia wine. The woman comes up, and holds her glass (still in the necklace/holster) to me and says (I'll have to do this phoenetically) "I'd love to try some of that Syrah/Pasheeooo blend" - referring to the SARAH'S PATIO RED. My friend said, "I'm sorry, we are out of the Syrah/Pasheeooo blend but we do have SARAH'S PATIO RED" The woman didn't even notice, took her sample, her foot long hot dog and cheerfully trotted away.

Isn't it the "Patio" grape that is indiginous to trailer parks?

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I was volunteering at the VA wine fest a few years ago, pouring at the Chrysalis table with a friend of mine.  We were pouring Norton, Viognier and a Rose called "Sarah's Patio Red" which I believe is 100% Norton.  Not too bad, but regardless.....

You know the scene:  A couple comes up and they have their "Make Mine Virginia Wine!" glasses in their necklaces - the kind that is a piece of leather on a string that holds the wine glass so they are free to mow down on a chili dog, funnel cake, or whatever else so delightfully pairs with virginia wine.  The woman comes up, and holds her glass (still in the necklace/holster) to me and says (I'll have to do this phoenetically) "I'd love to try some of that Syrah/Pasheeooo blend" - referring to the SARAH'S PATIO RED.  My friend said, "I'm sorry, we are out of the Syrah/Pasheeooo blend but we do have SARAH'S PATIO RED"  The woman didn't even notice, took her sample, her foot long hot dog and cheerfully trotted away. 

Isn't it the "Patio" grape that is indiginous to trailer parks?

And all this time I thought I was missing out on something by never having attended this event. Olivia, you have made my day! :lol:

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Riffin' on the White Zin:

Me at Cantler's Crabby Shack: What kinds of wine do you have?

Chick Bartender: Merlot, Chardonnay, Zinfindel...

Me: I'll have the Zin

[bartender proceeds to pick up a bottle containing a clear yellowish liguid]

Me: No, no, not White Zinfindel. Don't you have any real Zin?

Bartender: What do you mean real zin? This is real Zin.

Me: I mean the red kind.

Bartender: It comes in red????

Me: I'll try the Merlot

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Riffin' on the White Zin:

Me at Cantler's Crabby Shack:  What kinds of wine do you have?

Chick Bartender: Merlot, Chardonnay, Zinfindel...

Me: I'll have the Zin

[bartender proceeds to pick up a bottle containing a clear yellowish liguid]

Me:  No, no, not White Zinfindel.  Don't you have any real Zin?

Bartender: What do you mean real zin?  This is real Zin.

Me: I mean the red kind.

Bartender: It comes in red????

Me: I'll try the Merlot

In a situation like that, I'd drink beer.

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In a situation like that, I'd drink beer.

LOL. Amen. Any place with the word "shack" in the name = drink beer. I'm surprised that the house wines were poured from bottles in the first place. I figured they'd use one of those multi-button drink guns.

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LOL.  Amen.  Any place with the word "shack" in the name = drink beer.  I'm surprised that the house wines were poured from bottles in the first place.  I figured they'd use one of those multi-button drink guns.

Actually for the sake of the record, I should point out that "Shack" does not appear in Cantler's name which is "Jimmy Cantler's Riverside Inn". I was just being flip.

Edited to add: If I still could drink beer and eat crabs, I would have availed myself of that option in the first place. My beer drinking days, alas, are far behind me.

Edited by FunnyJohn
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You people amaze me.

There was a time that you did not know everything about wine.

If there was a grape from Alsace, at one time you did not nkow how to say it right.

If you like wine and fell the need to promote it, just help all the rest of us.

Don't mock.

And the "woman" that owns Chrysalis is a man.

T

I have to say I agree with Tugboat. Sure these anecdotes are entertaining- but some are also a little mean-spirited. There's still so little that I personally know about wine- but I'm learning. Heaven forbid I say something incorrect in a wine shop! I think you might find that some of the people basing their selections on cute labels today are going to be making better informed choices tomorrow.

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I think you're being a little uptight, tugboat. Read around the forum and you'll see that there are far more seekers after knowledge here than there are dispensers of holy writ. And the whole status insecurity that surrounds the act of buying wine at almost any point in the retail chain is just plain funny, whether the comedy is predicated on ignorance or arrogance.

So there.

Edited by Stretch
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I agree with tugboat, nvani and stretch. If I had to defer, I'd think tugboat is on the mark. I'd rather ensure that folks gain a wine education than be scared off of one. And absolutely, we all began at ground zero.

One additional point, though.

I particularly agree with tugboat from the consumer end. From the service end, I'm all on board with completely braising and pulling the flesh off of servers/barkeeps knowing crap about wine but serving it anyway. (i.e., "they make zinfandel in red?") Excusable for a consumer wine novice. Inexcusable for someone in the industry, no matter if you're serving in DC, Knoxville, Enid or Point Barrow.

I will never stop laughing at servers so out of touch. But I do agree the humor is misplaced when it comes to consumers.

Of course, that's not to say I still won't chuckle when I hear it. I just won't contribute to the misinformation. :lol:

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I have no contempt for customers who genuinely need help, and have an open mind - it's been correctly pointed out that we aren't born knowing this stuff, yet the most infuriating response that I get when making a wine suggestion is that the customer doesn't want it because, "I've never heard of it" :lol:

Right. All that tells me is that your comfort factor is extremely low, so you want me to put a well-known label into your hands. Our shop is FILLED with those things, so what do you want from me? I would imagine affirmation. That's the part that bothers me.

Come to me if you want to learn something new. Come to me if you want to expand your horizons. Come to me if you want to build a relationship where I'll be the guy calling you to tell you that the new vintage of one of your favorites has arrived, or we're about to sell out of your day-in/day-out "house" wine, which won't be available for a long time, so I want to give you a chance to stock-up.

The reason that you come to a store like mine is, if you have a problem with one of the wines I've sold to you, I'll make it up to you, I'll take your returns and credit you and find something for you that you'll like and remember you and your purchase next time.

Try that at Costco, or some huge chain store with little or no staff, or lots of turnover. It won't happen.

That's why stores like ours exist - personal service and the familiar touch.

I'm far from unique - my competitors all have a few people who are someone's "wine guy" and we enjoy that part of the job. Nothing is more personally rewarding than getting a return customer who LOVED the wine I sold them, and is so grateful. That's why I'm there.

If you want the familiar, I'll sell you the familiar, but put yourself in my hands, and I'll take you off the edge of the map, where there may be "monsters", but also great wines that you may never have known existed.

Isn't that the fun of it?

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I agree with tugboat, nvani and stretch.  If I had to defer, I'd think tugboat is on the mark.  I'd rather ensure that folks gain a wine education than be scared off of one.  And absolutely, we all began at ground zero. 

One additional point, though. 

I particularly agree with tugboat from the consumer end.  From the service end, I'm all on board with completely braising and pulling the flesh off of servers/barkeeps knowing crap about wine but serving it anyway.  (i.e., "they make zinfandel in red?")  Excusable for a consumer wine novice.  Inexcusable for someone in the industry, no matter if you're serving in DC, Knoxville, Enid or Point Barrow. 

I will never stop laughing at servers so out of touch.  But I do agree the humor is misplaced when it comes to consumers. 

Of course, that's not to say I still won't chuckle when I hear it.  I just won't contribute to the misinformation.  :lol:

We all begin at ground zero. Some are as anxious to move away from there as possible. Some prefer to remain there all thier lives. Some will just learn a few buzz words, and feel they know the subject while never really entering into the journey of exploration. Some seek validation in scores, and drink a narrow range of styles and wines. They think themselves expert because they can afford to buy all the latest and greatest hyped wines.

Some, myself included, drink to have fun, learn new stuff and explore. Labels don't matter and ratings certainly don't either to these folk. Just good wine does!! Let someone in this category come into my restaurant and they are sure to be turned on to something I think wonderful.

Edited by deangold
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At this point, he drops off our check, and I make some comment about difficult drink orders.  His response:  "Yeah, I've never even heard of rye whisky."

For a while I was in search of a decent properly made Manhattan (finally found at the Four Seasons in Georgetown). One place I tried was "Off the Record" at the Hay Adams. I asked for a Manhattan made with Rye (as they were originally made, and should continue to made with). The bartender who has been written-up as one of the best in the district told me, that bourbon and rye are the same thing.

Of course he was right other than one being made primarily out of corn mash, while the other is made mostly with a grain called RYE! :lol:

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