These are not the best of times for America’s restaurants, which means that when we dine out, we should expect truly exceptional service – the kind of service that would encourage us to return sooner rather than later.
Toward that end, I would like to propose a “Wine Drinker’s Bill of Rights.” These principles embrace the tenets of good service that help assure a positive wining-and-dining experience. You might want to print out this column, take it with you the next time you eat out, and use it to gauge the restaurantâ€™s level of service.
* The right to pay only once. If your party has a round of drinks at the bar prior to being seated, you should not be asked to “close out the tab.” The restaurant should have a system in place to seamlessly transfer the bill, and a policy that assures the bar staff gets its fair share of the gratuity.
* The right to be given a wine list for each adult at the table. At too many restaurants, when a couple dines out and asks for a wine list, that list is automatically presented to the man. Look, if I’m dining out with renowned vintner Heidi Barrett, I want HER to pick the wine. Better still, why not provide each adult with a copy of the list? That’s a great way to spark conversation and help select a wine that everyone might like.
* The right of refusal. If a wine is corked or otherwise tainted, the restaurant should replace it without question. At the same time, a diner should not send a perfectly good bottle back simply because it’s not to his liking.
* The right to be given a proper pour level. A half-filled glass is a good standard.
* The right to base the tip on the level of service, not the price of the bottle. It involves no more service to open a $300 bottle of wine than a $50 bottle. Diners should feel free to base their tip on a “base price” of no more than $50 per bottle.