It's one thing when a waiter answers your wine question with, "Gee, I don't know" and goes to find out. It's quite another when he mutters and then tries to fake it.
"What's your house Champagne?" I asked our Ivy waiter.
"We have two, Veuve-Clicquot and Domaine Michel. They're French," he replied.
"Domaine Michel is a California winery; it doesn't make sparkling wine."
"Yes, they do. We serve it."
"Domaine Michel makes Chardonnay. Is that your house Chardonnay?"
"Well, yes, maybe it is."
"We'll have a glass of each, and can you bring the bottle so we can see it?"
He brought us glasses, but no bottle. I asked about it. He said the bartender didn't give it to him.
As we sipped bubbly on the patio, we noted that smokers were all around us. When I asked about this, the waiter said, "Oh, you wanted the no-smoking section? Well, we have no more tables." Smelling any wine became futile.
A woman at the next table said she was cold. Without asking us, the waiter turned the heater up to high. Before long, I had shed my jacket and rolled up my sleeves, but by then the sparkling wine was warm.
The crammed, typed, one-page list has a lot of fancy bottles and fancy names. And prices are so high they appear aimed at the dim-witted wealthy. We finally chose the only "good value" on the list, 1991 Il Podere dell'Olivos Nebbiolo, which retails for $12. We paid $28, but that didn't bother me, since the wine was the only nice thing about an otherwise unpleasant experience.