Obnoxious Wine Attendants (or, How to Train Your Staff)

And no, I’m not referring to customers. [beee.gif] I mean the servers!

I should hope we all train our staff to do the most common positive things:

  • Make eye contact as people walk in the door.
  • Smile and greet.
  • Stay focused on the customer.
  • Be friendly, informative, knowledgeable about the area.
  • Walk glasses and tasting sheets out if the room gets busy.
  • Work in a circle, attending to everyone in turn.

But sometimes I encounter server behaviors that are rude, abrupt, unconsciously off-putting or just plain weird …

I recently visited a tasting room where the winemaker’s older sister was the pourer. When we finished tasting and declined to keep the glasses, she slowly reached out to pick up the dirty glasses using a large sheet of tissue for each, while giving us a matronly, disgusted look of reproach. She slowly carried each glass about three feet to the used glass box and dropped each one in, making a big production of it. This is probably THE weirdest wine server behavior I have encountered to date.

A while back I had an employee that was a neat freak and nearly perfect in every way. But she had this freaky thing about pens. I buy nice-looking pens for the tasting room, and as soon as a customer used one she would snatch it back and cap it. It was an unconscious tic, but it even made me feel guilty about walking off with a tasting room pen.

God knows, I have my own tics, but sometimes you just gotta say …


My personal philosophy is that wine attendants should try to be as attentive and gracious as if they were on a restaurant staff, and to give their customers the same service they themselves would expect in their favorite restaurant. But sometimes I am absolutely flabbergasted by the service I encounter in tasting rooms and wine shops.

So what are your pet peeves, things servers should avoid, and/or weirdest encounters?

We do in store sampling on weekends. Something we don’t take lightly or for granted since it only became legal in NJ a few years ago. Chatting people up and talking about the wines we pour makes a huge impact on sales. Usually I’m the guy behind the tasting table and you have to feel people out and be prepared to carry yourself in any number of different ways since folks who come up to the table have different levels of wine knowledge and interest. I don’t want to offend or put anyone off by being wine highbrow.

I hate the snotty, European pourer at domestic wineries that try to project a sense of culture or class.

Despite my best efforts, I never seem to have that problem…


This thread will be much more interesting if we can include customer behavior. [berserker.gif]

Is that the guy you thought was a fussy Brit because he had an accent, but he was actually a rugby player from Cornwall and when you said you’d like to see him in rubber boots hosing down a tank he offered to give you a bout of pugilism and you thought he was poisoning your wine so you offered to introduce him to a fag and he thought that was very gracious of you … I don’t know, maybe I got the story wrong. I heard it from Linda. [give_heart.gif]

Please don’t pour the wine, put the bottle back somewhere else, then come back to stand in front of me.

Please don’t make me ask for the next wine in the lineup.

Please don’t tell me that you grow your own grapes.

Know your product - vnyds, blend, alch%.

Don’t lecture employees within earshot of customers.

…and please, please don’t ask me, “isn’t that a great bargain?”

(gee, these all sound curmudgeonly) [cheers.gif]

No they don’t. [good.gif]

If you start another thread, I promise to contribute. [taunt.gif]

Two people actually…a French lady at Opus back in the day that I wanted to smack and an Eastern European/Russian lady at Chateau St. Jean.

Me: “How much fruit did you drop this year?”
Him: “Huh? What do you mean?”
Me: “Well, it’s common to prune some of the clusters off the vine to lighten the crop load so the remaining grapes will ripen, and it looks like you have a lot of clusters out there.”
Him: “Oh . . . I have no idea.”

Seemed like a basic enough question to me. [shrug.gif]

Well, if he does know that, Bob, then he’s probably not long for the tasting room. Next stop - or maybe current stop - cellar rat on the way to asst w/m. Actually, taste a wine and throw them the “what are you cropping this at” question, see what you get. :wink:

A French lady snotty? Really? [cray.gif] What’s the world coming to?

Any chance it may have been the winemaker? Genevieve Jansens (sp.?)

Providing a menu of ~15 wines, then telling me they could only pour what’s open - which was three.

High pressure wine club sales.

Telling me that you can’t open any of your single vineyard pinots, then ten minutes later someone walks in and says that they are club member, so the @$$ behind the counter immedeately opens two of the single vineyard pinots, but still doesn’t offer to pour them for me… [1928_middle_finger.gif]

Mary, FWIW the girl at your tasting room when Lauren and I stopped-by in September was great - didn’t seem to be a total wine geek, but was very personable and could hold a conversation. [good.gif]

Ah, that would be Carissa. She was just starting with us, first week of September. Her boyfriend is a barrel salesman for Seguin Moreau, and starting his own wine brand. She’s very intrepid and learning fast. I’m sorry I missed you! I would be the bedraggled and wet person rolling up the hoses at 11 am during crush …

I remember her mentioning something about her boyfriend… We asked if you were around, but I guess you were at the post office or something. Lauren and I were on our honeymoon so I wasn’t allowed to make any appointments for private tastings - she wanted the trip to be ‘spontaneous’… [beee.gif] [smack.gif] [give_heart.gif]

had just this happen @ Martinelli when the 2005 vintage was available. club member got Bondi Ranch and Zio Tony opened upon their arrival. worse still we didn’t get any until a middle-aged couple deemed not to be “playas” by tasting room attendee left and then we were poured wine and told “obviously we’d appreciate the wine” i guess implying the older folks obviously would not have?

have not bought since. there are enough other Pinot/Chard/Zin producers out there!

Gotta LOVE when they pour a corked wine. [1928_middle_finger.gif]

And I’m not even that cork sensitive! [shrug.gif]

I’m also not that good with faces…but I could swear it was Victor Hong…cause he kept telling me it was his wine of the night! [rofl.gif]