Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I don't drink...wine - A Rant by the Five Paragraph Bitter Food Critic
That line was spoken by Bela Lugosi in Dracula and became a catch phrase in most of the Dracula films that followed. It's a complex line for four little words. We, the hip audience, know what Dracula drinks, but the poor unsuspecting victims had to wonder what kind of person doesn't drink wine. My mother is one of those people - not the blood-sucking undead vampire, but the non-wine drinking type. She doesn't really drink anything alcoholic other than a random margarita or a Baileys-and-coffee. She's not a prude, but, well, she's definitely not her son. My blood type has a 2001 vintage. My doctor doesn't have a phlebotomist and needles for me, but a sommelier and a corkscrew.
On Mother's Day, we went to Al Tiramisu for an early dinner. The food was fine and the desserts were excellent, but the servers were stunned - aghast, actually - that we didn't order wine, to the point that they asked us at least six times. The first time they asked, Mom politely declined. They asked again...and again...and again, and you get the point. We were only there for two hours! There was a distinct attitude that we were somehow a lower-tipping table because we declined to look at their wine list.
Now, I'm only singling out Al Tiramisu because this was recent. Every other time there I've imbibed and had a blast. They're certainly not the only place attempting to shove wine down our collective throat. It makes sense for places to sell wine. A bottle of wine pads the check, it's seldom returned, and most folks tip properly on the higher total. Given the mark-up - usually 100 to 400 percent - the restaurant owners and servers love selling wine!
Sure, wine can make a good meal great, and it's an obvious, vital part of Italian cuisine. But when the offer is declined, please, dear restaurants, accept it, and move on. It's like a break-up - sure, you can mope a bit about the lost opportunity, but let it go. Put an ad on Match. Be mature about it. Nobody likes a stalker.
The city will nail drivers on DUI even if they're not legally drunk. Tourists visit here from temperate Salt Lake as much as wine-soaked Sonoma. Some people simply don't like to drink, or don't want to offend a dining partner who doesn't drink. People have their reasons; please respect them. A desperate sales approach in a restaurant isn't dining, but is akin to walking past those obnoxious mall kiosks, begging shoppers to try their hand creams, cell phones and jiggly colored pens.