We asked Hilary Berg, editor of Oregon Wine Press, and Brian Yaeger, author of Red, White and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey and the forthcoming Oregon Breweries, how they know they’re getting good or bad drink service.
I know it’s a good list when…
Hilary Berg: Wines, wineries and regions are spelled correctly—the curse of being an editor. Also, the list needs to have a variety of wines (pinot noir, chardonnay, etc.) in different styles (still, sparkling, dessert) and at different price points.
Brian Yaeger: It features predominantly craft beers from local or imported breweries and contains a wide variety of styles. Even if it’s a short list, variety is the focal point.
Temperature-wise, I expect...HB: Reds to be served at 60 to 65 degrees, full-bodied whites (think Chardonnay) at 50 to 60 degrees, and light white wines (pinot gris), rosés and sparkling at 40 to 50 degrees.
BY: I expect draft pours to be chilled but not cold, same for bottles. Frosted glasses offend my sensibilities.
Waiters should always...HB: Show you the label, ensuring the correct bottle was pulled from the cellar, let you inspect the cork and, finally, let you taste the wine before he pours it into your glass. If the wine would benefit from decanting, the waiter should oblige.
BY: Know what is available on tap by brewery, name and style. Be willing to provide a sample when asked. Always provide a glass for bottled beer. If they’re equipped to make pairing suggestions for specific dishes, so much the better, but don’t recommend the IPA just because.
Waiters should never...
HB: Over-pour—a smaller amount allows the wine to breathe and gives you the opportunity to swirl and sniff.
BY: Answer the question “What beers do you have?” by replying, “All of ’em: Bud, Coors Light, Heineken, PBR and Heferwyzen.”
Restaurants should always...
HB: Advocate their local wine industry, especially if the establishment claims to be “locavore.” Also, restaurants should rotate selections—producers and varieties—on their glass pour lists.
BY: Carry several locally brewed options—which is the case in Portland 99 percent of the time.
Restaurants should never...
HB: Make the wine list an afterthought. Wine and food are meant to be enjoyed together.
BY: Let their draft lines go three weeks without being properly cleaned! They’re not cast-iron pans that get better through seasoning.