After three days of nonstop drinking—day drinking and night drinking, then nightcap drinking followed by eye-openers—during the delirious fun that is ‘Tales of the Cocktail’ (an annual booze-a-palooza in New Orleans for the country’s foremost bartenders and spirits geeks), I was longing for a grownup, sit-down dinner. You know, the kind that includes food requiring utensils, real vegetables, and wine. A friend suggested a sleek, modern, lounge-ish place, located above a popular dessert shop in the French Quarter. I’d heard the food was excellent, so it seemed like a great idea. Once seated, I took a look at the wine list; brief but solid, it covered all of the bases—Old World and New World, greatest hits and undiscovered gems.
I asked our waiter for a bottle of Robert Sinskey Vineyards’s 2013 Abraxas, a juicy white blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer from the winery’s organically-farmed vineyards, at which point he squinted at me and said, “What bin?” Given the volume in the room and his distance from me across the table, I thought he said, “What vin?” I repeated the name of the wine. He said, “No, I’m asking for the bin number. On the left.” That’s when I said, “Seriously?” And one of my buddies kicked me under the table.
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To be fair, I’m always giving people advice about ordering wine at restaurants in an effort both to relax and empower them: “Ask questions!” “Ask for the wine list!” “Ask who wrote the list!” “Ask to see the sommelier or wine director!” One of my more contentious pieces of advice is: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ask a waiter for wine advice—it’s not their job!”