I was invited to pour wine for the Hoity-Toity Charity Wine Dinner, a fundraiser for some charitable organization that allowed people who could afford $10K a plate dinners to gather among their own kind. It was an honor, in the sense that only the top sommeliers in the area were invited to pour.
The dinner was held at a grand estate in the suburbs – the tennis courts were converted to a dining area for a few hundred people. A team of wine professionals gathered several hours before the event to conduct the massive operation of double decanting almost two dozen cases of ten different wines. Exquisite bottlings from some of the worlds most highly regarded wineries were inspected, tasted, poured into the decanter, left to aerate for a precise amount of time, and decanted back into the bottles*. From opening the first bottle to pouring the last drops, nine hours had ticked away. It was an exhausting evening made much more glamorous by all of the sublime wines we consumed ourselves.
The extremely wealthy, extremely entitled men seemingly all arrived with the standard issue perfectly coiffed women – cookie cutter images of the idle rich. Their faces, stretched farther than their imaginations have traveled in years, each seemed a caricature of herself.
By the time I was pouring the 7th wine of the evening, 1996 Bryant Family Cabernet, I had developed a rapport with the tables in my section – that is they stopped treating me as a servant and regarded me as a highly educated wine professional and began asking questions. When I served this spectacular wine to the last table, Alice, the apparent Alpha Female of the group, after tasting declared the wine “tight*”.
“Madame, I assure you that this bottle, as every other, has been double decanted and tasted by at least two sommeliers and we think it is showing beautifully.”
“This is tight” she insisted.
“I personally tasted this bottle before offering it to your table and I think it is pristine.”
“Well taste this glass” she demanded shoving it in my face.
Another chance to sample a 100pt, $1,000 bottle of wine – sure. I swirled, tasted and spent a few moments pretending to contemplate the question before ignoring the easy way out. “Ma’am, I must disagree with you on this point. This wine is drinking optimally.”
The lady who doth protest too much was interrupted by her husband as she was about to launch into another.
“Alice, the only thing tight at this table is you. Shut-up and drink it.”
*anyone who might be curious about wines that should be decanted, the process of double decanting, or a further explanation of wine that is “tight” feel free to send me an email for further explanation. I can be reached at restaurantrefugee at gmail dot com.