Friday, March 27, 2015
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 [email protected] Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

Susan Leonardi

.

News

County supervisors consider options for historic courthouse

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Two found dead of apparent shooting in West Davis home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

New Paso Fino design trims lots

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
Anti-gay initiative puts AG in a bind

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Co-pilot may have hidden illness, German prosecutors say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Senate’s Harry Reid announces he won’t seek re-election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Woodland police warn of kidnapping phone scam

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Lawyer disputes police’s hoax claim in California kidnapping

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Davis Flower Arrangers meet Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sign up for Camp Shakespeare

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Empower Yolo offers peer counselor training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

State loosens sex offender residency restrictions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Neighbors invited to adopt Willow Creek Park

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Sing along on April Fool’s Day

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Three nabbed in counterfeiting probe

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A6

.

Forum

Can he get life back on track?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Blame Reid for impasse

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Practice cancer prevention each day

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Turnabout is fair play

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

 
Be aware and be afraid

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Home sweet home: Aggie women win a tennis match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Devil boys grind out a net win at Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

DHS baseballers fall to Vintage in eight innings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
UCD men edge Hawaii on the court

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

UCD’s Hawkins, Harris to shoot at Final Four

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sacramento get its second straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

DYSA roundup: Recent youth softball games feature big hitting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks get a key win over Detroit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

UCD Student Fashion Association presents charity fashion show

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
‘Get Hard’ comes across as rather limp

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sacramento Youth Symphony holding open auditions

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
Preview Art Studio Tour participants’ work at The Artery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Smokey Brights to perform at Sophia’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
‘Deserted Destinations’ is April exhibit at Gallery 625

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Monticello announces April live-music shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Leonardo Tuchman’s work shows at UC Davis Craft Center Gallery

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

.

Business

Camry Hybrid takes a step forward

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

 
.

Obituaries

Celebrate Rusty Jordan’s Life

By Creator | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, March 27, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B4