Polemicist Christopher Hitchens is calling on diners to collectively resist the “barbaric” way servers automatically refill diners’ wine glasses when they’ve got a bottle on the table. To Hitchens it’s a crisis not just because it’s clearly part of their conspiracy to inflate the bill (the faster the table kills one bottle, the sooner they order another) but also because they interrupt his anecdotes with their incessant reaching and pouring and serving.
Hitchens’s call to arms appeared in Slate last week and has incited plenty more griping about the custom. The Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni chimed in today and Tuesday about what he cleverly calls “up-selling in the drag of solicitousness.” And he doesn’t mind the intrusion as much as the “indiscriminate assumptions servers make” when they refill wine glasses without asking – and sometimes they do it so quickly and discreetly there isn’t time to say no.
But Hannah Howard, who works for Serious Eats and at a local wine bar, says Hitchens has only himself to blame for not communicating. If someone at the table doesn’t want more wine, a simple “No thanks” will do the trick, because “waiters are not mind-readers. Words are wonderful things.” Sometimes commenters are too; here's the winner from Howard's post: "20 bucks says that Hitchens pretends he left his wallet inside the restaurant once he and his friends leave, so that he can rush back in and down everyone's wine."