Yes, Chef: Whip Out The Measuring Tape

You’re looking at the wine list, trying to find the perfect bottle to pair with your gorgonzola, caper, pork sausage, onion, and jalapeño pizza. That’s too tannic, you think, and that’s too flabby.

Finally, after what feels like an eternity, you stumble upon the only choice that you ever had, the one that, had she been present, Sacagawea herself would have pointed you towards. You smile the shit eating grin that you’re best known for, and wait for the sommelier to arrive table side.

“The 2010 Steinmetz, Sur Lie, Mosel Spätlese, please,” you tell the sommelier.

“Wonderful choice sir,” he replies. “The acid will perfectly cut through the pork sausage while its sweetness should provide a bit of relief from the peppers. Right away.”

Gone is your grin. You look across the table at your date, who is now not-so-subtly following the somm’s ass with her eyes as he walks away. Your thunder has officially been stolen. He might as well have said, “Wonderful cock, sir, allow me to retort with the Hanging Leg of Pisa.” Water glass in hand, you wallow in the realization that, perhaps, you were never meant to get laid tonight anyways.

In almost every profession, there often exists a sentiment that the youngest professionals, for the lack of a better word, suck. They’re overeager, often naive, and increasingly egotistical.

After all, young professionals are the ones still skimming through the inspirational quote frames they were shown as children, remembering that they’re the ones that can change the world. This demographic of wild, savage hyenas are constantly told that they are the future, that their exposure to tools like the internet, new media, and everything else that is thrown in front of them in this day and age will ultimately set them apart, positively, from their aging colleagues.

As a young professional myself, I can admit it. We’re egotistical assholes who generally think more highly of ourselves and our talents than should be societally acceptable.

The indoctrination of self-confidence among the young workforce manifests itself in a variety of ways, but few more clear cut than the example above — a semi-true story of my recent experience at Roberta’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn.

I am, by some accounts, a wine professional. In the past year, I have worked (briefly) as a sommelier, a winemaker’s assistant, a tasting room liaison, a private wine consultant, an outside sales representative for a winery, a retail sales associate, a hand-seller for a distributor, and now, a retail wine buyer. While not much in terms of stability, those experiences have given me what I hope to be a fairly well-rounded view when it comes to the world of wine. None of those experiences, however, made me a Master of Wine or Master Sommelier, nor have they bestowed upon me any other title that becomes available when one reaches the pinnacle of the wine profession. Sure, I know my shit, but the idea that I have nothing to learn from other professionals in the industry is both asinine and comedically ignorant.

Yet, as evidence by this essay’s anecdote, my ego far exceeds my own realistic, sober thoughts, offered here while absent at the dinner table. At times, I think that I’m hot shit and can do a sommelier’s job for them.

Without going down a yellow-brick road of Freudian nomenclature, the idea of professional clashes turning into dick measuring competitions is based on the notion that one’s worth, particularly in the eyes of the opposite sex, is tied directly to one’s ego, or confidence. Yes, it is also based on the idea that one’s ego, or confidence, is tied to the size of their Loch Ness Monster, but we’ll get there in a minute. Settle back down to half-mast, gentlemen.

There are many leather-bound books, published accounts of academic research, and other works that deal with a man’s own ego and how it relates to the way women view him. It’s not necessary to dive into the complete psychology of that here — because, for one, I can’t understand half of the words they use in those works anyways, so, fuck ‘em. However, ask a number of female friends their opinion on the following: One guy approaches you at the bar, is mumbling over his words, seems unsure of himself, and avoids eye-contact at all times. Another guy approaches you and speaks clearly, concisely, and looks you in the eye the whole time, eagerly awaiting to hear what you have to say. Which one is more likely to get your immediate attention?

Douchebags and creepers aside, I’d bet that the majority of your female friends said that the second guy had a better chance with them, in large part due to his confidence. Mine did, at least.

Confidence is sexy, basically.

As such, men have always searched for something to be confident about, so that they may express that confidence in hopes of attracting a mate. It’s pretty simple, really. For some, it’s their jawline (here’s looking at you David Beckham). Others, it’s their wit and skill with words. Fewer still, it’s the size of the python in their pants.

Men can’t stop talking about their dick — hell, we can’t even stop touching it. When we’re growing up, we’re constantly teasing others for having a small one and how ours is the biggest one in the room and how we’re going to fuck everyone’s mothers with it. Sure, the one who brags about it the most usually has, at least, one of the two or three smallest in a 25-mile radius, but as we age, the boasting becomes less verbal and thus, often, more honest. The Philanderer of Pipe does less bragging and more banging, often times because he’s able to gain confidence from his throbbing member. I may not be the best looking cat in the room, or have the most money, but I can talk to any girl in this bar because of what lies beneath my zipper.

Whether or not one’s length or girth could actually make up for serious shortcomings in other areas, that’s up to each individual lady-friend that might be interested. But as men, it really helps.

As it is just one aspect of the comprehensive package that we can offer a woman, those of us without a belly busting Broseph of Boom find their confidence in other areas, and use it to their romantic advantage. That is, until we are face-to-face with a rival utilizing those same tactics.

At that point, it’s mono e mono. Wang e wang. One Star spangled flag-pole against another.

One of the great benefits of being a “wine guy” is using that knowledge and expertise in the dating scene. I’ve never been out with a young woman who, at the sight of me picking out a ridiculous 2009 Nuits-Saint-Georges, called me a loser and walked off.

Rather, it’s generally something that can generate at least thirty-minutes of conversation and the opportunity to show them a few cool wine bars on the next date. It may not be a panty-dropper (and it’s surely not intended to be) but it’s something I have going for me that can make up for my entirely generic appearance, Sicily-coast-like hairline, and embarrassing bank account balance.

That is, until I run into a sommelier while on a date.

Truth be told, I love interacting with sommeliers and other industry professionals. The wealth of knowledge that they are eager to share, and experiences they are honored to offer is well worth whatever brief moment of self-consciousness I may endure.

Dining at Frasca Food & Wine in Colorado was an experience that, until that night, I had never experienced. However, it almost wasn’t so.

In the weeks leading up to the reservation, I debated whether or not it was worth doing the wine pairing addition to the nightly tasting menu. After all, the pairings would be an additional $95 for each person. So, the question was whether or not we would all do the pairing or simply order three different bottles worth, roughly, $100 each. A conversation with a buddy of mine, Dave, who worked at the restaurant, cleared up any indecision.

He explained how a large part of the Frasca experience is utilizing their sommeliers, in particular their ability to not only pair their wines with food, but to lead a diner through a meal, by way of the glass. Palate structure, texture, fruit, earth, acidity…all factors that, when considered within the context of pairing one wine with one dish, can be intricate but very manageable for the “home wine guy”; yet when those factors are considered in relation to an entire meal, an entire evening, why would a diner miss the opportunity to be truly blown away by one of the most talented sommelier teams in the world?

Right he was, as the experience was second to none.

Yet, when provided with the opportunity to engage with the sommelier at Roberta’s and utilize his experience and/or knowledge — neither of which’s presence would inherently cut mine at the ankles — I balked.

Perhaps it was the ironic mustache, conductor hat, or velvet vest, but I simply refused to utilize his services when given the opportunity to impress the woman that I was dining with.

It’s not as if she would have known the difference between Mosel, Morgon, or Montalcino, but I knew that whoever was taking my order would know. I knew that when I ordered a Sur Lie Riesling, the sommelier would flash me a smile, let me know that it was an excellent choice, and throw a nod to my date while she conspicuously slid her foot up the inside of my thigh. All of it, I knew would happen…I thought I knew, at least.

With his comments about how the wine would pair with the pizza we had ordered, the sommelier had stepped into my realm, offering up his own opinions about the wine’s acid and the food’s spice and the pairing and my date’s cleavage and “why the fuck are you on a date with him?” It was, without a doubt, an unmitigated disaster. There was no footsie. I didn’t pitch a tent under the table cloth and I didn’t get laid. All because of the sommelier’s need to pull out his Alsatian All-Beef Thermometer and lay it on the table**.

Though I suppose whatever blue-balls may have been endured by this writer have served as a valuable lesson, one that all of us should take heed of.

As young industry professionals, regardless of what industry we may be in, it would behoove us to take every opportunity to soak up the perspective of colleagues, no matter how intent we are to prop up our own ego. I will never have the perfect wine pairing for every dish I ever order, nor will I understand every possible nuance of a wine I may order. Rather than object to the wisdom passed on by others in our industries, we must soak up said wisdom, finding solace in the fact that this girl went out to dinner with us for a reason and sommeliers offering their input on our orders probably isn’t the reason we couldn’t seal the deal. For those who aren’t willing to accept that reality, right away at least, look no further than your micro penis — something that I just realized exists.

Pedler of Pecker , out.

**While I’m sure the sommelier in question has a magnificent man vein, it was, in no uncertain terms, very much kept in his pants during service. He was also a classic professional, executing the kind of service that all wine program managers should strive for. Roberta’s (261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206) is certainly worth the visit, as their food and wine program — not to mention their service — is second to none in Bushwick.

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