Ambience, Cheap eats, Ingredients, Neighborhoods, North Side, Presentation, Service, Wine

Bad Doors song, good advice.

You want to get people in your doors, especially for a special event, tell all the people.

Put it on your website. Tweet it. Post it on Facebook. Blast your email list. Give your regulars a heads-up.

I met up with some fun people last night at Atria’s at PNC Park. There was a wine tasting — the new Beaujolais nouveau from Georges Duboeuf.

Now, this isn’t $3,000-a-bottle stuff, or even $150-a-bottle stuff. I think last year’s goes for $10.99. But there was almost nobody there.

Free wine. Small cheese plate, gratis. Empty.

I’ve never been a fan of the hard sell. There’s a decent chance I have oppositional defiant disorder, after all. (Telltale sign: I once argued, heatedly and very much wrongly, with a neurophysiologist friend who studied the disorder whether it was “defiant” or “defiance.”) So, push me too much and I’d rather walk in the other direction.

But on this night, the only reason our group knew about the event was a press release a friend who works in Butler saw on a PR wire service. She sent it out to her friends on Twitter. Eight of us showed. One in our group is even kind of a deal hound. He couldn’t find anything else about it. nothing to link to, nothing to tell us what precisely to expect.

The staff at Atria’s clearly expected a crowd. Someone asked one of us if we had tickets. Extra servers, prompt attention, a nice set-up to show off the wine. Then they poured almost none of it.

The tasting glasses were plastic and small — little more than glorified double-shot glasses. It was hard to get a sense of a wine this young, which needs to open up, in a glass that prohibits swirling. Beaujolais nouveau is made from the gamay grape, which gets almost no public love, and aged barely at all.

It wasn’t bad. A little tight. But full-flavored, a little peppery, a little sharp and acidic. There are worse things. Have mercy, there are worse things.

The staff tried to give one of our group a cheese plate three times — twice after she handed off the first. And the plates came with no explanation. A couple grapes, one green and one red, an eh slice of prosciutto, a salami that was OK, a slice of baguette drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar.

All fine. But no one told us what the cheeses were. Brie — OK, easy to recognize. Manchego, maybe? Tasted kind of like it, firm and nutty, but that doesn’t make my guess right. The last one was earthy and creamy with a little thread of some blue-cheese mold running through its middle for a pleasant tang. Can’t put a name to it. No idea what its mama calls it.

Of course, all this was free. No complaints with the price. I bought a full glass or two of the wine, which opened up fine in a larger glass.

It was just hard getting over being practically the only ones in the place. As to why the management there didn’t try to shout its event all over town, maybe another Doors song has the answer: People are strange.

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