Events Photo Credit: El Pantera

Wine Pro Lesson #5: How to Beat a Snobby Sommelier at His Own Game

A snippet from what to expect from our upcoming How to Be a Wine Pro seminar.

It goes without saying that in the vast majority of cases the sommelier is a Godsend, but in those rare cases where they’re not, you need to be prepared. A few months back I was eating at Sexy Fish, a current darling in London’s Mayfair, when I came face-to-face with that most loathsome of all creatures: the upselling sommelier. As soon as I picked up the wine list he materialized unsolicited and pointed to either the most expensive, or a few times—magnanimously—the second most expensive bottle of wine in each category, describing them as “magnificent” as if he was letting me in on a revelation that a £400 bottle of wine would be magnificent. In such situations you can simply demur and hope the pest leaves, or you can put them back on their heels. “Do you have any wines from the Jura?” I asked. He fumbled, and muttered, “Ah no, they seem to be quite the thing these days” before mercifully beating a retreat.

The truth was I didn’t even want a wine from the Jura—a mountainous area near France’s border with Switzerland—but the incident underscored one of the great tricks to beat back a terrible sommelier. You don’t need to know more than the sommelier, you just need to have a few go-to obscure wines that the list is unlikely to have, but that are prized among the cognoscenti. The last part is key because it forces the bad sommelier into a defensive position, troubled that their list is deficient. If you ask for white zinfandel they’ll just think you’re a rube, but if you ask for sherry (wine nerds are gaga over sherry these days) or Jura or Etna Rosso suddenly they’re the ones who feel like they’re deficient.

Join me on April 5 and we’ll talk about these wines and more.

Your 90 Minute Guide to Being a Wine Pro

Where: Trail Appliances – 2876 Rupert Street, Vancouver

When: Tuesday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bonus: Proceeds benefit the Heart and Stroke Foundation and attendees get the chance to win a $1,200 Danby wine fridge.

Click here for tickets. See you there!  

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