The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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4 / the tasting panel / february 2014 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR "So, what wine should I drink with the cur- ried oxtail with fried plantains and charred curry leaves?" After a pause: "Er—um—how about a Cabernet?" This answer is from a waiter who wouldn't be able to tell a Muscat from a Muscadet, a server whose wine knowledge is minimal and whose grasp of the nuances of lavor pairing approaches Neanderthal. Whose fault is this? Is it the poor, young wannabe actor trying to earn enough to pay his rent, or is it the restaurateur who is too lazy and chintzy to properly train his staff. This is something I am seeing way too often. Maybe, when the restaurant irst opened, the staff was given a tasting of the wines on the list, but in the ensuing months the staff has changed, the wine list has changed, the menu has changed, even the chef has changed. "It's too expensive to be opening wines all the time for the staff to sample," whines the short-sighted restaurateur. Yes, it will cost a few hundred dol- lars to show the wine list to the staff, but the result will be signiicantly increased revenues, not to mention content and happy customers. The successful restaurant consistently provides a total experience to its customers: attractive surroundings, comfortable chairs, skillfully pre- pared food, a deep and well-selected wine list and helpful and knowledgeable service. Service is the make-or-break factor. A personable and involved server can make the difference between an average experience and a memorable one. A waitperson who knows the wine list can enhance the customer's meal and, in addition, add signiicant dollars to the bottom line. This column is directed at restaurateurs who refuse to go the extra mile and provide their customers with authoritative wine service. Train your staff. Let them taste the wine list and teach them what wines go with each item on the menu. In the long run, your revenues will increase and you'll be likely to be in business a lot longer. By the way, the answer to the question above is: "I would try the Old Vine Zinfandel or the Côtes du Rhône." The Make-or-Break Factor PHOTO: DOUG YOUNG CONTRIBUTORS Matt Edge started his career shoot- ing fashion and photojournalism upon graduating from P arsons School of Design in NYC. His work has been featured in Elle China, The New York Post, Los Angeles Times, and FourTwoNine magazine. Along with commercial work, Matt keeps busy shooting a variety of personal projects including "Made in America," a series of portraits focus - ing on craftsmen who make products in the U.S. Now based in Northern California, Matt frequently works in New York and Los Angeles. Kelly Magyarics is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. Her articles also appear in Wine Enthusiast, Cheers, Nightclub & Bar, DC Magazine, Washington Life and Washington Post Express. Kelly holds a Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and is also BarSmarts certiied. She can be reached through her website on, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics. Dianne Porchia, MA, DMBM, mas - ters life and work in balance by offering holistic wellness retreats in Topanga Canyon, a unique Southern California community of artists, healers, nature lovers and spiritual practitioners. As President of Topanga's Chamber of Commerce, Dianne encourages cre - ative and fun collaborations between business o wners and communities where residents, nature and busi- ness all thrive naturally. At the end of her busy da y she enjoys a glass of wine on her front terrace, nurturing body-mind-heart-soul. Find out more at Hardy Wilson grew up on a large cattle ranch in Northern California where he spent countless hours with his old Yashica camera and Golden Retriever. He still lives among nature and falls asleep listening to the coyotes and fog horns outside his apartment in San Francisco, California. He is a huge fan of cold beer, slow-cooked meats and the 49ers.

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