The SOMM Journal

October / November 2016

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Page 36 of 132

36 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 Dear Good Somm Bad Somm, I was always taught in culinary school to serve wine to women first, oldest to youngest, then men, oldest to youngest. But, isn't this pure sexism and ageism? And what happens if someone is trans- gender at the table? Does anyone really care who gets served first anymore? Sincerely, Women and Children First (?) Dear Women and Children First (?) The choreography of service is an art form and skillset, and the Court of Master Sommeliers sets the gold standard. And during a very special evening, elegance is the key! In traditional service, the host is allowed to taste and approve the wine first, then service proceeds clockwise, women first, men sec - ond. The host is always served last, regardless of gender. Over the years the Court of Master Sommeliers service standards have evolved and today service begins with the host, then continues on in a clockwise manner to the celebrant of the table, then to their guests in a clockwise motion. Today, servicing the table elegantly and quickly is the greater task at hand, regardless of gender—and/or transgender. While the Court of Master Sommeliers serves as the standard- bearer, the best service professionals will assess each situation and treat each moment with grace, even if under fire. Sincerely, Good Somm Dear Women and Children First (?), While I agree that the Court of Masters is the ultimate standard-bearer, and also agree that there is much to be said with regard to tradition, it is always the rule that transgender clients may not only use whichever restroom they prefer in my restaurant, but they always get served first in my dining room. Yours Truly, Bad Somm If you'd like to read more and/or submit additional questions, please visit us at @goodsommbadsomm Dear Good Somm Bad Somm, I recently saw a bottle of wine at a retail wine shop priced at $45 that I had recently purchased at a restaurant for over $100! Why is wine so overpriced in restaurants as opposed to retail? Please explain! Feeling Gouged Dear Feeling Gouged, Great question! On behalf of all sommeliers, I would like to apologize that you feel gouged. This phenomenon has to do with the business side of wine and the costs of running a restaurant. Standard markup in restaurants is about 30 percent. Pricing has to cover the cost of the bottle and the cost of doing business and still create a profit. At the end of the day, most restaurants barely make money! If you think the markup on wine is high, check the markup on coffee, soda, liquor, beer, mixed drinks and bottled water. It is actually significantly higher than wine! Check other industries—fashion, interior decorating, gardening, valet, house cleaning, education, housing, health care, electronics and entertainment; these industries all have markups that are staggeringly higher than those in the wine industry. Sincerely, Good Somm Dear Feeling Gouged, I'm so tired of hearing this question from every tight-wad, wannabe-wine-collector who comes in my dining room. If you want to drink wine at retail prices, go buy a bottle and drink it on the hood of your car in the parking lot of your favorite liquor store. And get used to it because the restaurant business is quickly becoming untenable. In fact, next time you go out to a restaurant, wander over to the kitchen and take a look around: Do you see that army of line cooks sweating their skinny asses off, cooking for you? You think they're back there because they like getting burned-up and screamed at by angry chefs for a living? No. They get paid. And the food they prepared? Delicious! Blows that Trader Joe's tamale you had for dinner last night away, right? Food costs money. And what about the mob of dishwashers and glass polishers? They're back there scrubbing pots and pans. They aren't compensated in pesos, beuy . . . And you like that "hipster" bartender with the funny mustache and sailor tattoos who made your fancy cocktail? We don't pay him in Fernet-Branca. How about the smokin' hot waitress who flirts with you every time she's at your table? You ain't gettin' any of that at home, bro. Guess what? She gets a paycheck too! And this prime real estate you're standing on? Imagine the rent. Now, who do you think pays for this entire operation? We do! The restaurant! And we do it just for you! And the way we are able to do it is by selling you stuff for more than what they charge you at Costco! So if you like being trapped in your domestic nightmare of boredom, where all you eat are overcooked vegetables and dried out chicken prepared by you and your spouse, just keep complaining. Put it on Yelp! But if you enjoy being able to escape your kitchen to a crowded joint full of beautiful people while being served exquisitely prepared meals and drinking from Riedel glassware: Stick a cork in it! Yours, Bad Somm

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