• The writer is chairman of the Electoral College of the Vintners Hall of Fame. He is a former wine writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. This commentary was written for Palate Press, the online wine magazine.
By W. Blake Gray
Traditionally in haute cuisine wine service, a waiter refills wine glasses, and the diners never need sully their hands on the bottle. But traditional haute cuisine service is just about dead. Instead, the main reason servers refill glasses today is to get the bottle off the table and encourage you to buy another one.
I spend many meals in fine restaurants these days trying to play defense against every passing server topping off a glass I don’t want refilled. Let my guard down for a second — laugh at a friend’s joke — and suddenly I have a full glass I didn’t want.
Perhaps I’m unkind to think servers are only looking for a 20% tip on a second bottle. Many are just trying to do a job. But servers can’t keep track of each diner’s individual needs, nor do I want to give them a rundown of our personal situations each time we sit down.
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