food and beverage underground

"Proper Wine Service"

Proper wine service is a must have server skill. So you are working in a restaurant that serves wine and your training was inadequate. Well, it’s really no great surprise as
many restaurants today seem to just gloss over proper wine service in their training processes.

No big deal right? What’s the worst that can happen? You break off the cork in the bottle and have to fumble around trying to recover. You put a bottle between your legs to give you leverage to pull out the cork or heaven forbid you drop a bottle. No big deal right? WRONG.

As a new server you may not yet have the skills to dance around your wine lists varietals and vintages, but proper wine service at a table is a must. Proper wine service for service staff should be as basic to you as serving from the left and clearing from the right. Whether your table has ordered a $15 bottle of White Zin or $200 bottle of Cabernet proper wine service is proper wine service and you should follow the same steps.

Once someone at the table orders a bottle of wine your wine service starts. The first thing you should do is repeat the wine that has been ordered back to the host noting the vintage, producer and variety. An example would be, “the 2005 Honig Sauvignon Blanc?”

Once you have confirmation of the wine your next mission is to prepare for the service. You should get the proper polished wine glasses to the table if they are not already pre-set. They should be placed to the right of each guest. Next get the wine, but before going to the table make sure you have a wine tool and a service napkin or cloth as well.

When you bring the wine to the table go to the right of the host (the person who ordered the wine) and present the bottle to him or her the bottle tilting it up toward them at a slight angle with the label facing up, and again verbalize the producer, wine variety and vintage.

"Sir or Madam the 2005 Honig Sauvignon Blanc you ordered.” This is the perfect time to bring up any mistakes you may have in vintage if any.

Once you get the acknowledgment that the wine is correct take a small step backwards, put your service towel over your arm that is holding the bottle and bring out your wine tool. When opening the bottle you want to keep the label facing the host at all times, so take out the knife of the screw and cut firmly around the bottom lip of the bottles foil top and remove the cap by prying it up and then place it in your pocket or apron.

Take your waiter cloth or napkin and wipe away any sediment from the top of the bottle before removing the cork.

Next close the knife part of your opener and open the screw. Lay the screw across the cork and position the point at the center of the cork. Lift the screw up pushing the point into the center of the cork then while keeping the label facing the host twist the screw into the cork. When it is fully inserted use the lift tool to pull out the cork. Remember it is not about strength here the tool uses leverage to easily remove the cork. If you have problems with this I suggest telling the bartenders that you would like some practice opening bottles as they routinely open several house pour wines daily for service.

Place the cork to the right of the host for their inspection. This is where the host may inspect the cork for dryness or mold which could be a sign of a problem with the wine. Before pouring a taste for the host use you server cloth to wipe the inner rim of the bottle to remove any sediment or cork particles that may be present.

Pour the host a taste of the wine, about 1-oz. Then take a small step back holding the wine with the label facing them and wait for their approval.

Once the host approves of the wine (about 97% of the time), begin to pour each of the guests starting with the ladies and then the men going clockwise around the table from the left of the host always finishing with the host regardless of their sex.

When pouring a white wine, fill the glass a little under 2/3 full. With red wine the glass should be filled a little under half way, leaving enough room for some good wine swirling. Always fill the host's glass last. This gives the host a chance to order another bottle as the first gets low or empty.

Place the partially full bottle of wine, either in the ice bucket to the right of the host, unless the table doesn't permit it due to size, then the center of the table is fine, but get a wine stone. Red wine directly on table with the label facing the host. As the meal proceeds, keep your guests wine glasses approximately half full.

The host and guests should not have to ask you to pour more wine, keep an eye on the wine, and the guests should never have to pour their own wine.

Use a new wine glass if you serve a second bottle from a different producer or a different varietal.

Proper wine service complete! Now enjoy a better tip!

From Proper Wine Service to Bordeaux Wine

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