Awhile back I did a few things, I wrote Wine Service at Your Home, an Event, Bar, Winery or Restaurant, another on Bad Somm Service and compiled a little 99 cent e-book called Wine Etiquette For Everyone: How To Feel Like A Pro In Any Situation Involving Wine. Fast-forward a couple of years and as it would turn out, my level of detecting aromas and flavors has also identified more BS in the wine community. Check it out, though I may have a couple or repeats in here as some things still really bug the hell out of me:
I recently dined at a restaurant that served wine and allowed BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine). The waitress took the bottle I had brought in, opened it up out of my view (guessing there is one corkscrew in the place) then returned with the bottle, and presto, the cork was removed right through the now ripped foil. I had no choice but to remove the jagged remains from the top of the bottle myself. Why they would serve wine this way I don’t know. It’s just plain ugly and the diner has to do the work.
This is one a few people mentioned to me on Faceboook: Attending a catered party, complete with hired bartending services, and the bar ends up being low on basic supplies and the server is ill-trained.
Holding the wine glass by the bowl instead of the stem is only appropriately called for if the wine is too cold and the aromas are closed off. (I’ve been known to cup a frosted glass – another pet peeve – of white wine as I can’t detect a damn thing when the wine is served icy cold.) The stem is there for a reason, please use it. It allows you to easily swirl your wine so you can enjoy its color and aromas.
Anyone with the inability to handle a cork mishap hasn’t been trained properly. I’ve actually had to step in to rescue a broken cork from a bottle, or to wipe down the inside or outside of the neck of broken cork remnants.
This is very common: not pouring a taste when you BYOW to a restaurant. Any bottle can be corked or deemed undrinkable. Why not show the courtesy, and if the bottle is not up to par, there you are ready to offer a suggestion for replacement. Seems like a no brainer to me. When I’m hosting a party or working a wine event I always taste the wines before serving.
Please taste through your wines before subjecting a diner or guest to a pairing. Wine and cake is not my favorite pairing. Neither are cocktails and cookies. Like and like works with food: a good example is a big Cab with firm tannins will help break down fat in a big steak. But a sweet wine with an equally sweet dessert isn’t for everyone. Port alone or with a little chocolate is good, while a Sauterne is nice with a blue cheese, the rest you can keep to yourself.
Bad glasses: if you really don’t like the glasses offered at a restaurant enough that it negatively changes your experience, bring your own. A restaurant may not carry the latest Riedel or crystal glasses for the sole reason that they are expensive, highly breakable and not the easiest to fit in their dishwasher. Get over it or pack up and bring in your own.
If you serve wine in individual carafes please don’t empty the entire carafe into the wine glass. It’s not a show. Pour about two ounces, or up to the widest portion of the glass. Overfilling the wine glass won’t allow for swirling.
Ignoring a drip: really? Come prepared with a cloth napkin nearby when you serve wine. The diner shouldn’t be responsible to wipe up a drip. Or, if left unnoticed, have their clothing stained.
Over chilled white wines: I understand the majority of people like wine bucket service for their sparkling. It’s a nice show. But unless it’s 90+ degrees out I would rather discern the serving temperature myself of a white wine. If a white is served too cold aromas are shut down.
This should be obvious but while guests watch a server opening a wine they will notice dirty fingernails. Please clean up before serving. Egads people.
Not a biggie but the foil capsule is the bottle’s “dressing” and shouldn’t be completely removed. I’ve been told it’s easier for the staff, among other reasons, but it’s not supposed to be served that way and a wine person will only presume that you just don’t know any better.
Many a time a bottle is presented and poured with the label hidden in the palm of a hand. Please turn the bottle around, holding with one hand by the back and the punt, and confirm it was the correct one ordered. The bottle should then be shown to all of the guests at the table if possible.
This is fun to watch but not appropriate: holding the bottle between your knees or under your arm to retrieve the cork. If you simply can’t maneuver it, then place it on the table to help you balance the bottle while opening.
This happened to me once in a very high-end restaurant: The waitress and I both watched as the sediment slid out of the bottle and into my glass. Really? Stop pouring and replace the wine. She didn’t.
Snobs, I’ve touched on this one before but have since have to add: please be careful on social media. Your “expert’s rant” is subject to commentary so unless you know something to be a fact, and of value to others, keep it to yourself. Expressing an “elevated view” of wine makes you look like a snob, some of your followers may feel like veritable idiots and is a complete disservice to the wine community.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com