Perhaps they’re only being half-served, or poorly served.
Basic aspects of wine service are often slaughtered, regardless of the level and reputation of the restaurant.
I see no sensible reason for this phenomenon.
Wine service basics are covered in well-written manuals, outlined in professional publications and demonstrated in service scenarios taught by seasoned pros.
We all know this stuff inside and out, but we can all stand to be reminded of what serves the guest-and the wine-best. Let’s look at some simple, standard wine service points at the beginning of the meal.
When is it appropriate to take a wine order?
“NOW” is good! There’s nothing like being seated in an expensive restaurant, eager to consume delicious wine, and then watching the clock tick off 20 minutes before anything other than Pelligrino appears.
Actually, when the guest is looking at the wine list may be the best possible window to glide up to the table and address the subject, wearing a big helpful smile.
When is it appropriate to bring the wine to the table after it has been ordered?
Again, “NOW” is good! It’s frustrating for guests to be sitting with important clients, a new date or edgy family members, waiting to place a wine order and then waiting again for some wine to arrive.
If your guests order Champagne, white wine and a red wine for their evening’s pleasure, bring all of the wines to the table and ask for their direction regarding the pace of service. The sparkler may be left on ice, the white opened and the red decanted-all ready to enjoy, when and as they see fit.
Especially with larger parties, each of the diners may be on his/her own agenda, drinking Cabernet with the scallop appetizer. enjoying the Champagne throughout the meal or forgoing all wine options for another cocktail or beer. Of course, if the menu and the wines are pre-arranged and are the same for everyone, you serve the wine classically, before each course.
Do you know your wines by the glass?
“We have a California Cabernet, a French Chardonnay, a....”
Should this be the response to “What wines do you offer by the glass?” If a restaurant’s servers are unaware of the specific glass pours, the burden is on the management to make by-the-glass knowledge a priority.
How do you handle out-of-stock wines?
The 86 list needs to be reviewed at every lineup-and before every shift. “Reviewed” means spoken out loud and written down. When you’re at the table-discussing wine selections, it’s a nice-touch to steer the guest away from low or out-of-stock items.
When do you deliver the glasses to the table?
Before the wine arrives.
It’s not very thoughtful to leave a decanter full of delectable wine within the guests’ reach and not have supplied them with a vessel with which to steal a sneak sip. Do we serve food without placing silverware?
What are proper pour levels?
For wine by the bottle, pour absolutely no more than two-thirds and preferably no more than half of the glass, regardless of how small the glass may be. For big glasses, the pour should not exceed a bottle split between six guests (approximately four ouces). When in doubt, underpour. For wine by the glass, pour no more than three-quarters full, regardless of glass size. If you exceed four to six pours per bottle, the glass is too small.
Good wine service techniques are universal, whether the restaurant’s style is formal white table cloth or casual bistro. When in doubt, imagine yourself as the guest or as the winemaker of the wine you are about to serve. Trust your common sense to guide you. Also, assume that your guests know at least as much as you do about service. They often do; they dine out regularly at the very best restaurants and drink wines that we can only dream about.