Decantless Training

The owner of a very upscale restaurant sends over a bottle of 1990 Dunn Cabernet Howell Mountain for my guest and me to enjoy; A very generous gift. The GM brings the wine over in a cradle and carefully presents the 16 year old wine and leaves it on the table for the server to open. There are no service trolleys or side station in the restaurant to decant from so the staff is trained to use a tray jack. I have seen them do this in the past and it is well done. Unfortunately this new server was not properly trained in decanting. He sets up the tray jack with decanter and candle to my right which is technically correct except that his butt is now invading the space of the table next us. I can see the guest is getting agitated as the server is cramped for space and suggest that he may be more comfortable decanting from the head of the table where there is plenty of space. He resets the tray jack but instead of setting up tight on the table he sets up in the middle of traffic. As servers try and move around him, he removes the bottle from the cradle stands it up right and begins to pick the capsule off while trying to make pleasant conversation.

It was pretty comical to watch him slowly pick the capsule off piece by tiny piece. Finally, he places the corkscrew auger into the upright bottle but instead of twisting the corkscrew, he begins to twist the bottle and only puts the screw about half way in. This is a 16 year old wine with a fragile cork and as expected the cork breaks. The embarrassed server begins to make excuses and tells us how this has never happed before… blah blah blah. The whole time this is happening not a single server or manager has come to his aid. The restaurant was very busy, but this kid was not only butchering the decant of an old and fairly expensive wine he was obstructing the flow of service.

In the end, I got up move the tray jack out of traffic; showed him how to use the screw as a tool; and give him a quick crash course on decanting. I figured it was the least I could do for the comped bottle of Dunn.