The essence of wine snobbery
Some people give the rest of us a bad name. I’m talking about the “young men” who acted like idiots in full public view and who insulted the waiter when they held a “blind tasting” at a Chicago restaurant, Mastro’s Steak House, where they did everything that diners can possibly do wrong.
You have to feel some sympathy for that waiter, Cory Warfield, who reported the anecdote yesterday on his The Wine Guy blog.
Cory seems like a decent, funny, friendly guy who’s come up through the ranks (doorman, barback, DJ, “unofficial sommelier” at Ruth’s Chris Chicago, website owner at The Swirler), but he does have a temper, and uses his blog to vent when the venting is justified. As it certainly seems to have been in this case. Briefly, eight guys in their 40s who referred to themselves as “young men” (lol) had a wine tasting at Mastro’s, with Cory as their waiter. With no prior warning to the restaurant, they arrived with their bottles, demanded 72 glasses, and proceeded to act “very rude to me, pretentious (they were all trying to ‘one-up’ each other with fabricated stories, many of which included strip-clubs or celebrities.. whatever), and [were] fairly clueless in general…[telling] stories…about drinking Romanee Conti out of styrofoam cups in exclusive cellars making celebrities wait outside in the cold, and bragging about how they have the ‘ultimate hook-up’ [at] Alinea [restaurant].”
To add insult to injury, they were lousy tippers.
We all know, or have seen or been suffered to experience, people like the “young men.” If Cory is to be believed–and his blog rings absolutely true–they are the quintessential examples of wine snobbery, people so concerned with one-upsmanship, with gratifying their own egos by puffing themselves up, that they make everyone else around them uncomfortable.
Poor Cory did his best. Despite their unconscionable and unreasonable behavior, “I made it happen,” he relates, setting up the 72 glasses at a moment’s notice and getting the wine “poured evenly in front of each setting within twenty minutes…”. The “young men” no doubt didn’t have the slightest idea that Cory was secretly fuming, because he had the professional decorum not to show his true feelings. But he was able to relieve himself in his blog, which eerily comes just days after I blogged my own post, “When the critic rants: a defense.” This was Cory’s turn to vent, and he did it with grace and good humor.
Wine lovers, please monitor your public behavior. A few rules of the road:
Rule No. 1: If you’re going to ask for an unusual glass set-up at a restaurant, have the courtesy to call them earlier and make sure it’s okay and that they’re prepared for it.
Rule No. 2: When you’re dining out, please don’t brag about your Romanée-Conti exploits, your run-ins with celebrities, your connections at the best restaurants, in voices loud enough for anyone to hear you except the person you’re trying to impress. It’s rude and nasty, almost as objectionable as talking on a cell phone, and takes away from your neighbors’ pleasure.
Rule No. 3: If you bring your own wine, as the “young men” did, don’t use this as an excuse to leave a cheap tip.
Rule No. 4: Don’t treat your waiter like a slave. Be polite to him or her–offer tastes of the special wines you’re drinking–be considerate of that person’s feelings. That’s a human being you’re ordering about, not a robot. Overcome your own ego to treat others the way you would have others treat you.