Wine: A Dialogue

by Michael Parker


Him: “So, tell me about your pinots, ah..what’s your name?”

Me: (one) (two) (three) “Michael.”

I always answer this question after a conspicuous hesitation, to send a signal that I don’t like giving my name. Diners don’t need to know servers’ names.

Him: “Ah. Michael. Nice to meet you.” He extends his hand for a shake.

This blows my mind. I am not a car salesman. I am selling you a wine off this list. I’m not at your table to build a relationship. Now I need to remember to wash my hands. Of course he didn’t give his name.

Me: “Pinots?”

Him: “Yes Pinots.”

Me: “Pinot Gris, Grigio, Blanc?”

Him: “Noir. Do you have Silver Oak?”

Me: “Oh. I didn’t know about their Pinot Noir.”

Him: “The Cab.”

Me: “Oh. Do you mean the softer one, from Alexander Valley? The one that/”

Him: “You have that?”

Me: “No.”

Him: “So how about your Pinots. Do they have acid?”

Me: “Lysergic?”

Him: “What?”

Me: “Sorry. I worked in a winery. Sometimes technical words slip out.”

Him: He points to the list. “How’s this one?”

Me: “The Burgundy from Joillot? Old world style. Earthy.”

Him: “What’s earthy?”

Me: “Well, you can literally discern the dirt, the soil that produced the grapes. French winemakers there aim to–”

Him: “Does it have acid?”

Me: “Yes, but balanced. Are you trying–”

Him: “Ah. Sonoma. Sonoma’s good. This is from Sonoma?”

Me: “Sonoma Coast, a far broader area than–”

Him: “How’s this Russian River one?”

Me: “Estate bottled, 5 years old, ready to drink. I sold–”

Him: “How’s this Atalon?”

Me: “That Merlot is sold out. Sorry. Are you looking for a style that’s–”

Him: “Well, all this talk about acid. I need to know about the acids in the wine.”

At this point I have the feeling I’m being watched. True. His lady’s eyes are fixed on me. It’s as if she has bet money I’m going to get flustered. I’m a pro. She will lose this bet.

Him: “Have you had this Russian River one?”

Me: “No, but I sold that one the other night and the customer loved/”

Him: “I’ll take that one. What the hell.”

A few minutes pass. I’m serving the Pinot Noir he ordered.

Him: “Is this a proper cab glass, Michael?”

Me: “Yes, Sir.”

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