Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Wineaux: When the bottle’s not what you expected

SusanLeonardiWineauxW

By
From page A9 | May 02, 2013 |

I recently overheard a fellow diner inform her server that she just didn’t like the wine she ordered. A moment of silence followed. The bottle had been opened. A glass — or maybe two — had been poured. Servers like to please their customers. Small restaurants have small to nonexistent profit margins.

I dragged my attention back to my own dinner companion, so I don’t know the outcome of the impasse, but it did make me think more clearly about a common dilemma: You order a bottle of wine knowing just what you want and the first few sips make clear that this is not the wine you anticipated. What can you do?

The short and brutal answer: If you can’t be with the wine you love, love the wine you’re with. Chances are good that it will grow on you, that more exposure to air will improve it, that it will taste quiet different once you sip it with your appetizer. Give it a chance.

If, halfway through the meal, you still don’t like it, well, write down the name and avoid ordering it — and perhaps others from the same winery — in the future. Unlike a sweater or necklace that you return to a store, the bottle cannot be re-sold by the restaurant, and it’s unfair to request that they bring you another that you might (or might not) like more.

As with most simple answers, though, there are exceptions. The most obvious: something’s wrong with the wine. If the wine is “corked,” for example, you not only can but should send it back. It wouldn’t harm you drink it, but no self-respecting winery would want you to think their product smelled and tasted like wet dog or rotten cardboard. Sometimes the taint is barely detectable by most drinkers. I was once halfway through a glass when the winemaker told me it was slightly corked. I wouldn’t have noticed. I just thought it tasted a bit dull. Other times I’ve known as soon as I sniffed that something was seriously wrong.

It’s not usually necessary, by the way, to taste the wine to find out if it’s corked. Just smell the sample that the server pours and if it has a nice aroma, it isn’t corked. If it smells a bit moldy, it might be corked (or it might just need a few breaths of air) and you should go ahead and taste. I know they do it in the movies, but don’t bother to inhale the cork — that will tell you nothing since most corks smell a little funky.

Luckily, fewer and fewer bottles are corked these days, thanks to improved cork quality and screw caps. I’ve only opened one corked bottle in the past year. Chances are that your bottle is just fine.

There’s another exception to the “suck it up” answer, an even more complicated one. Say you don’t see anything on the list you know you like or say you’re just in the mood to branch out and try something new (which I encourage you to do). So you say to your server, “Could you recommend a bone-dry white?” She or he gives you a glowing report of a perfect riesling. You order it. She opens it and pours you a sip. It’s sweet. Really sweet. Then I think you have good ground for requesting a replacement. You trusted your server to bring something at least in the “dry” range, and she didn’t. She should have been better trained.

On the other hand, say you merely asked for a wine that would go well with your crab salad and the server says, “This riesling is one of our best sellers and my own favorite white.” If it’s too sweet for your taste, well, you should have been more specific. Even a sweetish riesling might work very well with a crab salad, and it’s not your server’s fault that you would have preferred something drier.

In a central coast fish restaurant I once ordered a supposedly dry white, recommended by my server, and was dismayed when I tasted the sweetness on my tongue. But I must admit that it nicely complemented my fish, and by the time I had finished my first glass, I was quite happy with it.

After all that, I’ll tell you about a wine you won’t want to send back. At least if you’re looking for that bone-dry white. I had and liked a bottle of the 2011 Vin de Savoie Jongieux, so when John at Valley Wine company suggested the 2012, I brought a bottle home. Lovely. Just what I wanted. Crisp with a bit of lemon and a bit of apple and some nice mineral at the end, it’s even better than the 2011. Lovely straw color. Food-friendly. Low in alcohol (11.5 percent) and only $11.

Another delicious white I tried recently — not bone-dry — is the white table wine from Brookes. A blend of pinot gris, pinot blanc, rielsing and gewürtztraminer, it comes from biodynamically grown grapes in the Willamette Valley and has a lovely floral aroma and taste. Citrusy with lots of stone fruit — think apricot — and a tiny touch of honey, it’s refreshing and delicious for summer drinking. You can try a taste for just $2.25 at Vini. You can buy a bottle there, too.

I don’t usually recommend wine that you can’t get locally, but since Berkeley isn’t that far away and since the wine store, Vino!, is just a couple of blocks from the Berkeley Amtrak station, I’ll share my latest pinot noir discovery. I almost passed this beauty up because the tall slender bottle looked just like an Alsatian riesling or pinot blanc.

Well, the wine is indeed from Alsace, but it’s 100 percent pinot noir: 2009 Gustave Lorentz, a family winery with about 100 acres in central Alsace that has been making wine since 1836. Added attraction: Gustave Lorentz is currently in the process of having all its vineyards certified organic. This cherry-infused pinot is light but intensely flavorful. At only 12.5 percent alcohol, it pairs easily with all sorts of food. Try it with anything mushroom. Or with some wild salmon now that the season for that treat approaches.

One way to be sure you won’t be sending your wine back would be to bring this elegant bottle with you (and, of course, cheerfully pay whatever corkage fee you’re charged), especially if you want to excite the curiosity of your server and your fellow dinners. They’ll never guess you paid only $13 for it.

— Reach Susan Leonardi at vinosusana@gmail.com. Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

Susan Leonardi

.

News

Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

 
School district may redevelop downtown site

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

DUI suspected in crash

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Scots vote to stay in UK

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Storyteller will draw on music, dance

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Register to vote by Oct. 20

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Free workout class set at library

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis maps available at Chamber office

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Reception benefits endangered gorillas

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Downtown history tour planned in October

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Davis hosts its own climate change rally

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Qigong classes available for heart health

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Sick of being the bad guy

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Educate homeless with dogs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

By Our View | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Return to previous plan

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Save the ‘pine cone place’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Affirm our community values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Project has safety risks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Learn more about Paso Fino

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Take Zona and Bama this week

By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

 
A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Features

Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Carol L. Walsh

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A10

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Taylor Morrison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Norcal Land

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Robin Garland

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Dana Hawkins

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Martha Bernauer

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Remax

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Melrina A Maggiora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Jamie Madison & Associates

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Marcelo Campos

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Julie Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Bob Bockwinkel

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Juan Ramirez

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

James Hanna

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Raul Zamora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Susan von Geldern

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

Lisa Haass

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

First Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24