As many of you know, I will be moving to the great state of Texas this summer and as such, I was down there a couple of weeks ago to both look at schools for the boys and explore the Houston housing market.
On the way back, we had a bit of time to kill in the airport, so I gracefully ditched my family and went off in search of a glass of wine. It was not the first time that I had conducted such a maneuver, but it was my first attempt at IAH (I refuse to use the “other” name for the airport). After scouring terminal 1 for about as long as I could tolerate (perhaps five minutes), I discovered that the only location that I could consume a vinous beverage and watch the NFL playoff game (albeit on a seemingly poorly tuned monitor) was the Chili’s at the far end of the corridor.
I plopped down at a table and before I could get my Macbook up and running, my cheerful (so far, everyone in Houston seems so damned nice–I wonder if I can get used to that) handed me a menu and indicated he would be back shortly to take my drink order.
Having just eaten, I was only interested in inebriation, so I quickly leafed through the menu and found this under “Wine”: “Ask your server for the latest wine options as they change quite frequently.”
So, being the obedient soul that I am, when my server returned, I ask: “Excuse me sir, the menu indicates that I should inquire about the wines you have by the glass….”
My server: “Oh, we have ’em all.”
Me: “Excuse me?”
Server: “Yeah, we have ‘em all, except maybe Riesling, we have ‘em all: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet….”
Me: “Oh. Any chance you have a list who makes them?”
Server: “No, but there they all are, right behind you, just take a look.”
The server then trotted back into the kitchen and I was left to ponder my decision, peering over my right shoulder at the lined up reds (there were four: a Cab, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and perhaps a Shiraz), and the couple of whites that were mostly obscured by the refrigerator door (Riesling and Chardonnay [Sonoma-Cutrer] were the only two that I could clearly see, but I am pretty sure there was a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio).
I was rather surprised to see the Sonoma-Cutrer as it is a perfectly respectable option, so I ordered it. Within a minute or two, the glass was delivered, filled within a decimeter of the rim with a slightly golden liquid.
And I was happy.
As I was about to take the last sip of the Chardonnay, my server returned and inquired if I would like another glass. Feeling a bit rambunctious, I decided to push my luck a bit and ask if they might have a sparkling wine on offer by the glass.
Server: “Uh, I don’t honestly know, let me check,”
Server (after checking with the bartender): “Well, we have champagne, but I know that doesn’t count.”
Me (ignoring the obvious): “Champagne?!? Is it from Champagne?”
Server (looking more than a little irritated, but I was not sure if he was frustrated by the seemingly Captain Obvious question or that he had already labeled me his “problem table” based on our first interaction): “Yes”
Me (getting excited): “Do you know how much it is a glass?”
Server (slightly more irritated): “Let me check.” (Then to the bartender) “What’s it called? I can’t find it (in the system).”
Bartender: “Look under ‘mimosa’.”
This apparently worked as he immediately took the requisite four steps toward my table.
Server (clearly a bit pleased with himself): “It’s $11.79 for the glass sir.”
Me: “Really?!? Sorry, but can I see the bottle?”
I can not be certain, but this seemed to produce an audible sigh from my server. Had this occurred in Philadelphia, the sigh would have certainly been audible, there would have been some saliva involved, and it would have ended with at least a teeth sucking if not a sucker punching.
After another minute he comes back with a split.
Me (deflated): “Oh, I guess I’ll just have another Chardonnay.”
[Note: I originally posted part of this story on Facebook where it soon garnered the ire of many a Texas resident (and one from Napa) who all pointed out that there were much better wine bar options in other terminals at IAH. I thank them profusely for the information, of which I will surely take advantage my next trip down.]