MetroWines Takes ON The New York Times!
Letter to Philip Galanes, "Social Q's" at The New York Times
I dined out with two friends who earn much more than I do. As one perused the wine list, I asked him to choose a bottle under $100. (It’s more than I spend, but it felt like a compromise.) He ignored my request and ordered a more expensive bottle. And then another. I didn’t enjoy the meal; I was too nervous about paying my share. When the bill came, my other friend said they would treat me. I was relieved but embarrassed. If I didn’t drink, I could probably back out of the booze portion of the bill. But I want to drink, just not the most expensive thing on the menu. Thoughts?
J.S., CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
“When I was young,” said Oscar Wilde — supposedly, along with every other snappy line that is not attributed to Dorothy Parker or Charles Nelson Reilly, “I thought that money was the most important thing in life.” (Can you see where this is headed?) “But now that I am old, I know that it is.” But money isn’t nearly as important as the things it represents: power, generosity — did I say “power”?
It’s possible that your big-spender pals always intended to treat you. But you’d think one of them might have said, “The wine’s on me,” before overruling your $100 limit. Or they may be the kind of people who like to lord their wealth over others. Still, good for you for speaking up.
Don’t be cowed into silence by richer folk. No need to be embarrassed by our finances. We work hard, and our budgets are what they are. Next time, have a chat with known offenders before your meal. (“I’m on a budget and would like you to respect it.”) And should any friend start grandstanding at the table, simply tell the waiter that you need another minute before ordering and lay out your reasonable request again. (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”) Also: a Tanqueray martini with olives (typically $12 to $18) can be a nice alternative to wine.
Our Letter to the Editor, New York Times:
Dear Editor, New York Times:
Martini for wine? Not happening. In "FineWine Fracas," a response to J.S. Cambridge, Mass (Sunday, July 31, 2016), Philip Galanes of Social Q's suggests that a Tanqueray martini with olives would be "a nice alternative to wine."
While we have paired spirits with meals, in nearly all cases this simply does not work either as a partner to food or as a social bridge.
The high alcohol content of a martini will overpower the food's flavors. And drinking separate cocktails creates a very different dining atmosphere than sharing a bottle of wine.
Wine is made for food, family and friends. Pairing the right wine with foods makes them both sing! And sharing the same bottle of wine at the table makes for a shared dining experience.
But the bottom line here is that this uncomfortable situation would never have occurred if J.S. had chosen the wine in the first place. Too many people are needlessly intimidated by wine.
J.S. can learn some basic pairing guidelines which are surprisingly simple. Our advice would be to join wine tastings around town. Most are free and are always a fun learning experience.
And next time, J.S., pick the wine yourself. You can do it!
S. Gina Trippi and John Kerr