Imbiber, Interrupted

In a seething article yesterday from Slate Magazine, Christopher Hitchens, demonstrated for a pull of power, urging waiters, restaurateurs and consumers to end the “barbaric” tradition of refilling an empty glass of wine, unless otherwise summoned for by the needing patron.  

It seems that the “vile” perpetration has attributed to a senseless skid of piquant anecdotes, cut off at the height of amusement, as much it did for Mr. Hitchens the other evening.

It could be taken that the presumptuous act of the server was domineering, perhaps he/she hounded over the glasses with little attention to anything else, but he never lets on of this occurrence.  Rather it seems, Mr. Hitchens was turned off by his inculcation possibly being overshadowed by the server’s pouring of wine. 

I must say, without knowledge of the server’s technique, if in fact he/she followed through properly, Mr. Hitchens’ floundering mojo was fault of only a mis-delivered punch-line.

As for service notes, Mr. Hitchens said about the practice:

“Not only is it a breathtaking act of rudeness in itself, but it conveys a none-too-subtle and mercenary message: Hurry up and order another bottle.”

Depending on the caliber and integrity of a restaurant it would be in poor taste to pour off a wine solely in attempt to bring over another bottle.  Conversely, if glasses are completely full, even with an empty bottle, how does that signify the necessity for another? 

He goes on to say:

“Not everybody likes wine as much as I do.  Many females, for example, confine themselves to one glass per meal or even half a glass.  It pains me to see good wine being sloshed into the glasses of those who have not asked for it or may not want it…”  I must run in a different circle of females. 

There is a decorum a server must keep, as there is an expected etiquette for the guest, not only to the service, but also to his/her fellow diners.  If Mr. Hitchens’ friends would prefer to be passed on a pour, they merely need to place their hands over their glasses or signal the waiter to that extent.  

Now I agree with him and his voiced concerns over intrusive service.  Aside from absent service, interruptive service is equally aggravating.   However, I do expect good service.  And when I purchase a bottle of Beaulieu Vineyard “George de Latour” Private Reserve 2000, and spend the restaurant price on the bottle, I expect service for the bottle.  Otherwise, I could enjoy the magnificent wine at home without the service for 20%- 30% less than the restaurant’s price tag.

I’d be more apt to side with Mr. Hitchens if he outlined tangible reasons to be contrary.  If it was a bottle of white that was haphazardly poured into standing glasses that had not been touched for some time and had gone warm, or if there was a change in wine and the old glasses remained to hold the new bottle, I could ally with his agenda.

But the vindictive tone of the piece only resonates from a spoiled anecdote, which is why he begins to rethink the purpose:

“I am perfectly well aware that there are many graver problems facing civilization, and many grosser violations of human rights being perpetrated as we speak.  But this is something that we can all change at a stroke.”

I hope Mr. Hitchens’ does not expect a hole-in-one.


photo courtesy of arnout66


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