I,DON’T really,want to continue harping on about the wine-in-restaurant thing, but some stupid restaurateurs make me unable to help myself. Obviously my pot-shots at money-grabbing eateries purporting an interest in wine whilst really only ripping the customer off are not appreciated by all. See, for example, the diplomatic and elegant comment from one Johan,to a previous posting on this topic.
The latest stave in the rotting barrel is Decameron. Yes, the beloved Decameron in Stellenbosch. Since the 1980’s this has been one of the most popular joints in town, serving excellent food and attracting a loyal clientele of local businessmen and winemakers among the thousands who visit the place annually.
Decameron, situated in Plein Street, closed a few years back for not uncontroversial redevelopment of the building it is housed in. Now it is back and by all accounts as good as ever.
But amongst the blister-thin pizzas, velvety pasta and tasty meat dishes, I smell a rat. And it is in the wine. And now I am not talking about the ubiquitous and irritating 250% mark-ups which us patrons have to endure.
A few local wine producers have alerted me to the fact that any producer wishing to see his wine on the Decameron carte has to fork out R450 a month for the privilege. Plain and simple.
I have a problem with this.
First: When visiting a restaurant where I am obliged to pay the mark-up, I have to swallow the establishment’s excuses for such a hike. One of them is that the restaurant has invested in staff who go to great lengths to manage the shops cellar and to select a range of wines complementing the cuisine.
The R450 monthly levy shoves this, of course, to the wayside. What Decameron is saying is that they will stock Ch?+¦???+¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬teau KopKaas from Putsonderwater as long as the requisite sweetener is paid. No respect for the product itself. Pay as you flow.
This situation must really be pissing off the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, which brings me to gripe numero duo. Without the Stellenbosch winelands and the local winemakers, what reason is there to visit Stellenbosch apart from scoping out the first year students and a couple of yawn-inducing thatched buildings?
Wine makes Stellenbosch rock. Yet a place such as Decameron gives the finger to the region’s wine industry with its policy of wine selection. Stuff the local industry ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ pay me for being on the wine-list and I don’t care if your stuff is made in Parow-Noord or Pofadder.
This brings me to the third reason for pitying Decameron in its rudeness. The restaurant is frequented by wine makers who have introduced the establishment to associates, friends, business partners, et al. Yet, this courtesy has been thrown back in their faces with a mercenary and insensitive wine selection policy.
Some will call it business. I think it is common and greedy.
– Faizel van der Vyver
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