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Mark Sommelier

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  1. Three types that I'm aware of: moulded (including injection moulded), extruded (including coextruded) and composite (aka agglomerate). Composites are typically made from cork pieces and cork dust bound together with glue; they look nice but don't eliminate cork taint. The "slugs" you refer to are probably moulded, and you're right that they're a pain to extract. Injection moulded corks, with a denser plastic used for the exterior and a softer plastic for the inside, are better. In my experience, coextruded corks are the easiest to remove, though like the others they will strip the Teflon off your high-tech corkscrew faster than you can say "What the f***?!" With moulded and extruded corks, the appearance depends on the plastic and dye used.

    I don't call them "slugs", I call them "plugs". When I open a bottle with one of these at work, I never present it like I would a cork. Bonny Doon winery does them in many colors. Kinda cool.

  2. Oh boy! more upscale chains!

    As an outpost of a "chain" Coastal Flats is legitimately good. Wildfire and Shaw's are from Lettuce Entertain You and both extremely successful in the Chicago area. Morimoto's will be his second in the U. S. preceding his Manhattan opening. Overall these four are strong anchors for Tysons. Still, there is nothing from a "homebased" chef and I agree with you on this. My guess is that it is only the national companies or those with national reputations that can afford the exhorbitant rents that are being charged. What Tysons/Reston/Herndon/Vienna need is an area a couple of blocks off of the main drag where Donna/Jeff Black/Kinkead/Buben/O'Grady and others can open in an anchoring "cluster" such as an old town type of ambience where they can afford the kind of operation and overhead that we want to find down the street from where we live. Old Town Herndon does have this as does part of Vienna a block in from 123. Both have yet to be discovered by these and other chefs looking in the NoVa suburbs.

    Hint to those who read this board.


    You are describing the same thing that makes M St. in Georgetown so awful. Chains everywhere. Barnes and Noble, Pottery Barn, Benetton, Adidas, Pizzeria Uno. The great used jeans place just closed. Woe.

  3. rebel rose thanks for that link. that explained it perfectly. but one thing i'm wondering is, are tanins evident in certain kinds of wines or are they evident in poorly made wines? i mean can you write out a list of wines that have a little amount of tanin and a list of wines that have a lot or is it a matter of how you make the wine? what i got from it was that good technique can minimize it and certain grapes have more and or less of it? is this correct?

    Most white wines don't show much tannin unless they are young white Burgundies. Red wines show the most tannin. Bordeaux always tastes tannic when young. Burgundy too, with exceptions. Most California producers have learned how to "mitigate" the tannincs. The wines are forward, fruity, light tannin.

  4. I have tasted certain Coteaux de Layon which had a defiinite chalk and mineral flavor, much more than I ever encountered before. These vineyards sit over chalk, flint and granite deposits. In this case, they definitely flavored the wine.

  5. I've never openly offered BYO. Regular customers have occassionally asked, very politely and diplomatically for special occassions. In these cases I didn't charge a corkage fee unless they got on my nerves  :rolleyes: . I can't recall a customer who ever abused "special" privileges. At the fine dining level it's not like customers will pull a stunt like asking for a free water cup at In N Out and then filling it with cola.


    The restaurant I work in does not offer corkage. I can recall many customers abusing this when we used to do it. 8 guys at a table on Saturday night bring 10 bottles of wine and want fresh glassware and my full attention. To the line they always give "We always share the wine with the sommelier" I answer "A sip is not a tip". In the "olden" days, you brought a bottle you bought a bottle of equal value.

    Just to make clear the details about markup: the wine is bought at the source from the broker or importer for $2, he sells it to the national supplier for $4, he sells it to the local distributor for $8, the distributor sells it to the restaurateur for $15, the restaurateur sells it for $40. Europe does not have this kind of multi-tier system for distibution of wine and liquor.

    I have been in many arguments about retail price versus restaurant price. Most wine stores have 4-10 employees. My restuarant has 85. Liquor stores do not have to buy 400 dozen glasses a year. I do. Liquor stores do not have to pay a dishwasher $11 an hour, I do. Everyone, including me, hates egregious markups. Feel free to google the winelist at ADNY in Manhattan for a great example ($500 for Dom Perignon ($105 cost), $1000 for Krug Clos le Mesnil ($220 cost), $105 for Chateau Montelena chardonnay($23 cost)). Its all about context.

  6. One thing I always like to add to the markup discussion is that the restuarateur is merely the 4th or 5th guy in the line to markup the wine, yet no one grouses about the importer, supplier or distributor the same way. Why is that?

  7. MaxH wrote:

    "Corkage is occasionally even an opportunity for a restaurant to make a statement. A menu I have on file from a spirited, inventive bistro in silicon valley a couple of years ago states an unusual house policy:

    Corkage fee: Silver Oak $500, everything else $17"

    That's pretty funny, actually.

  8. Do you have any of that Vietnamese stuff that cats crap out, that sounds delish. And as some chefs know "My Kitty Likes Kitty Food."

    You mean Kupi Luwak coffee?

    No. I don't. I don't deal with gimmicks in my business. (except for one :blink: )


    Come on, lighten up! Wouldn't it be fun to order a "double cat crap latte with 2% milk"? You could charge a lot for that. :raz:

  9. Alexandria , Va: Hi Tom ,

    How should we answer a customer, when they ask a glass of red chardonnay and they insist such a grape is available ?

    Tom Sietsema: Carefully!

    I wonder if said customer is thinking of a blush wine?

    Anyone aware of this grape ?  A lady kept asking for this , I just couldnt explain to her.  :huh:

    I'm guilty. Sometimes when I'm in an evil mood, I tell people that pinot noir is red chardonnay. :laugh: (Sure beats white merlot! )

  10. Buying a plane ticket , staying a night in Chicago and seeing what Charlie Trotter`s can do `in service` will give you the best service experience in United States . You will come back speechless , thats my opinion .

    Yes, but fero, you live here in DC, too. How do you train waiters to do that? Tell me that and we can both open the best restaurant in America.

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