The twisted grape vine

Thursday night we ate out in Covent Garden and, just as I was ordering the wine, Guido explained to me that I’m not exactly the cheap date I always thought I was.

“You do know that there’s a weird psychology going on when it comes to drawing up a wine list?” said Guido scrutinising the food menu. I could see his finger stop at the line with deep fried calamari on it.

Whenever the two of us sit down in a restaurant something strange happens.  The waiter always hands Guido the food menu and I always get passed the wine list. I like to think these guys have a sixth sense. An other worldly and boozy professionalism only sommeliers can have, where they’re able to suss out which one of us is the foodie and which one of us is – the complete lush.

“What are you talking about?” I said, slipping on my spectacles.

I always slip on my spectacles when I read a wine list. I think this makes me look more intelligent. I go through the silly charade of slowly pondering as if I’m someone who knows what he’s looking at. Sometimes I’ll even throw in sound effects by sucking my finger nail and making an extended hmmm… sort of noise. I think this adds gravitas to the process of weighing up the subtle nuisances between a flinty French sauvignon and a fruity Chilean one. The spectacle thing is a waste of time. I’m actually short sighted rather than long sighted. This means when I’m concentrating hard to read anything for real (particularly the price I might add) it all looks blurred and out of focus and back to front like I’ve just developed dyslexia.

Trust me, white wine is always on the left hand page and red wine is always on the right hand page. If you flip it over, the poor old blush is usually hovering all lonely on the back whilst the expensive fizzy stuff is right down at the bottom. It’s there as a sort of hopeful after thought for customers on a desperate first date or a boring Valentines Day meal when splashing the cash is going to bolster you’re chances of some sex later.

“Establishments don’t really list the cheapest wine from the top down you know,” Guido whispered. He was still mentally debating about the squid I think. “The second wine listed has actually got the highest mark up. That means in reality it’s way, way, more expensive than the cheap house wine at the top,” said Guido.

Now he tells me, I thought. I’ve been playing this wine game for years. I always order the second one listed. This is so I don’t appear to be a complete cheap skate by picking the first one, but apparently the restaurant will already have worked this out using a twisted kind of reverse psychology.

Suddenly the staff wearing aprons, scribbling orders into note pads and juggling plates had all just become mini Einsteins.

“Are you ready to order?” the waiter smiled, his pen poised, ready to analyse.

“We’ll both have the deep fried calamari,” I said, “and bring us the cheapest bottle of plonk you sell. I don’t mind where on the list it is.”

The squid was outstanding, and after the second bottle, so was the wine. Whatever it was.

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34 thoughts on “The twisted grape vine

  1. did you see eliza doolittle selling flowers by tottenham court road whilst at covent garden? this week in 1956 “my fair lady” made its debut on broadway with rex harrison and julie andrews.

    spouse and I love deep fried calamari! smooches to mah lil bro and guido and all at the spanish onion!

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  2. All I know is I like white wine but not red, and that it’s probably not a good idea to order the wine that the homeless man on the street drinks for a paper bag.

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  3. Hi you two, Ted here. G and me always order a bottle of MERLOT pronouncing it as in NOT.
    We love to see the condescending smirk on the waiters face!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree that waiters in restaurants can sense who is in charge, this is why Guido being a Chef has this kind of aura around him detectable by wait staff automatically. You get the wine list because they sense that you are affected by the Canadian syndrome. In fact you confirm this later in your post by writing that you ordered whatever wine from the waiter. The Canadian syndrome is ordering the house wine no matter what it is, because it is cheap. On the other hand Canadians love to ponder and discuss the various beers on tap, which I find tedious. Luckily I am not affected by that syndrome. Poor Guido works hard all day over a hot stove and all he gets is fried calamari and a glass of plonk. Is that what they call an abused husband, reading this reminded me of Coronation Street.

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    • The thing I love about you Larry is I never quite know what you are going to post on here. Your latest one made me fall off the sofa laughing (no really it did) and I wasn’t watching Coronation Street at the time either. Guido thinks you’re terrific. God, Will must be sort of Saint to put up with you. But you do have a point.
      I think in spirit I may actually be a Canadian. I like the sound of their approach to drinking. Cheap. Like me.
      JP

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  5. Not much on wine but it’s probably just because I have not found one I really liked. A friend once told me the best wine was the five gallon box variety. lol I always suspected it was the ever flowing spout that made it taste better since she was a lush anyways.

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  6. The way I see it, there’s is nothing wrong with being a cheap date, or not having the wine knowledge of the wine list dear. It’s the skills in the BEDROOM that matter. But as long as the wine is wet, I’m happy.

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  7. I always get great pleasure at watching the waiter trying to take out the cork of the wine bottle. I’m not sure why, but I love that sound as the cork finally comes out. Kind of reminds me of something else, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. 🤔.

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