Saturday, February 21, 2015

The customer is always right -- or, folks be lyin'

Or, folks be young and in love, therefore not listening, or folks have bad memories (which is very possible, mine falters too), or folks are being lied to. Although this last seems unlikely, when the lie we're annoyed about is so easy to check and to refute. We were annoyed enough, on coming home and settling in and fixing a little drinky, to fill the ice cube tray with fresh water and then proceed to open the basement door, rather than the freezer dooor, to put it away. Time to vent.

A young couple ask for help in the store. Fine. Happy to oblige. Convo turns to what they want, namely something from Stag('s) (s') Leap. This could be either the district -- they didn't absorb that information at all -- or either of two wineries, Stag's Leap [Wine Cellars], or Stags' Leap [Winery].

"Yes, we know," the pretty young woman breathed excitedly. (I'm turning fifty soon so I'm annoyed by pretty young women with long, effortlessly glossy brown hair.) "We just got back from a visit to Napa and Sonoma" -- "how nice!" I hiss -- "and we visited Stags' Leap, with the apostrophe outside the s. That's the original one."

"Oh, but I've not heard that," I answer carefully, the wine professional who nevertheless wants to keep the customer happy and spending money on the big 15-percent-off Saturday sale. "There are two Stag ('s)(s') Leaps, you know, plus there's the district -- "

"Yes, the one with the apostrophe inside the s and the one with the apostrophe outside the s. We visited that one."

I squint appraisingly. "Yes, now there is the Stag's Leap whose wines won the famous 'Judgement of Paris' wine tasting back in the '70s,"  I begin to explain. "That's the Stag's Leap with the apostrophe inside the s. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars."

"No, it's the other way around," the pretty young woman with the effortlessly glossy brown hair tells me. "They told us so. And there were all kinds of problems and lawsuits and everything, but now they're all friends again. The way to remember it is, Stags' Leap with the apostrophe outside the s, they're on 'the right side of the s.' That's what they told us. They're the ones who won that tasting."

My squint turns to pop-eyed pleasure, so glad to be taught something new. "Really. And all this time I thought it was the other way."

"No, we visited, and they told us so."

"My goodness."

Then after they pick a good red wine, we venture into the humidor and they choose a cigar, and I muse aloud over who it was who led me wrong about the whole Stag('s) (s') Leap thing. The young couple laugh kindly.

And of course I google the question as soon as I have a free moment, and of course I learn they're wrong. It was Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, apostrophe inside the s, whose wines were famously judged so marvelous at Stephen Spurrier's 'Judgement of Paris' wine tasting in 1976. After all these years, it is still not a minor point because the reputation sells a lot of wine and is obviously worth lawsuits. And lies? But it's a simple fact which can be checked in historical sources of the time; today, Stag's Leap calmly claims its history, while Stags' Leap does not. I consider that telling.

So, why are the young couple so wrong and so confident? Just misheard someone, but don't think they did? It happens. Honeymooners too busy thinking about dinner and sex to pay attention to a lecture in a Napa tasting room? Heard what they wanted to hear (but why would they want so carefully to hear incorrect information about one winery over another)? Or, are they being brazenly lied to by the staff at Stags' Leap-on-the-right-side-of-the-s? But why should it be that, when it can all be so easily checked and refuted?

Luckily, the customer is always right. Nothing to do but look pleased and surprised at this sudden access of good information, and thank them for their business. "Well, I'm glad, as you say, they're all friends again." They laugh, and move happily to the checkout lanes.

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