Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A mess of a tasting

My partner in crime, Jennifer Frank, recently went on a trade tasting rant that I feel I must follow-up by example. A certain un-named trade tasting attended today at a fairly famous midtown restaurant has got to be the worst of all tastings. It is a veritible circus of tasters, drunkards, waiters, sales people and suppliers. I can hear the three ring circus music playing right now. Dun-dun-dada da dun dun dada.

As we entered the painfully small space for such a large tasting, it became obvious that this was to be no ordinary tasting. A recent tasting on the westside by a leading and ultra-large distibutor was at least housed in a monsterous hanger (the NY bar exam is held there for God's sake) that could fully accomodate all of the suppliers, sales people and tasters with ease. Thankfully, (and hopefully thoughfully) the liquor suppliers and their "airport bar" comedy show were pushed to the end of the space. This allowed all of the super slick neon, HDTV setups and scantily clad women passing flavored shots to show themselves in all their glory with out running into any hardcore wine tasters.

Sadly, this was not the case today. As we look at probably the WORST designed tasting book on the planet, we sigh in disbelief. Set-up by supplier with no index or brand/table crossrefrencing it becomes a useless paperweight under my arm. Perhaps a weapon to use against the throng? Alas, I am non-violent. Now, picture your humble winemonkey pushing his way through the crowds of people, jostled left and jostled right, all in a feeble attempt to taste a couple of interesting bottles. I quickly grab and pour (which I am thankful for-- it is always easier to pour yourself) begin my note and take a taste. Suddenly the horror begins. Where the hell is the friggin' spit bucket? You have got to be kidding me. Oh no, you... have... got... to be kidding me! Yes, a table away and full to the gills sits the closest spit bucket. I ignore the comments of a fellow taster who emphatically tells her collegue "Let's just do shots of liquor" and make my way through a second throng of people to reach my destination. What a nightmare. Eventually, the shift was made to spitting into a second cup because clearly I don't have enough to carry-- only a book larger than bible in one hand and my wine glass in the other.

This second spit cup scenario, however, ended up in another catastrophe that I will have to save for another post.

Finally, I will not comment on the quality (or lack thereof) of the suppliers. They are, in fact, pouring free product to everyone there and that is a lot of free booze going down the drain for them. I also will not comment on the rude waiter gestapo (yeah let's add more people on the floor) running back and forth. They are as fed up with us as we are with us. I will however comment on the food. The food-- oh the food. Plates and plates of aspargus as far as the eye can see. Albeit a nicer overall spread with all sorts of bites if you could make your way there to wait ten deep in line. But, people please STOP SERVING ASPARAGUS. Do you want your wine to show poorly? Are you throwing down the gauntlet and saying your wine can stand up to asparagus any day and twice on Sunday? Do you have that much hubris? Oh unnamed distributor, you and your asparagus fly too close to the sun.

Sadly, we were beaten today. Every wine we made a break for was either not being shown or missing in the morass. I don't think we will be making the trek back to this particular tasting next year. But don't cry for me Argentina, as I write this I am preparing to sally forth yet again to another tasting.

Bring on the asparagus.

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