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How to Serve Wine Properly

A server who does not know how to properly and professionally present a bottle of wine at a nice restaurant is a big turn-off for the guests. They are spending their money at a nice restaurant and expect their server to be well informed of this art. With much practice, though, almost anyone can impress their restaurant’s guests by following a few important steps.

The proper storage of wine may be something beyond your control, but it does affect the wine service and ultimate enjoyment of the wine. The lighter the wine, the cooler it should be. Champagne should be served in the mid 40’s while chardonnay in the mid 50’s. A pinot noir should be in the upper 50’s while a cabernet sauvignon should be served in the lower 60’s. Generally speaking, room temperature is too warm to serve any wine at.

When you are retrieving a bottle of wine, be sure to double check the label and year on the bottle before bringing it back to the table. You can bring the wine glasses to the table before or with the wine, preferably before.

The person who ordered the bottle should be presented with it. Hold the bottle in one hand with the label facing the guest. Say the name of the vineyard, grape and year of the wine as well as any additional information such as “reserve” if necessary. An easy way to do this is to say “your 2004 St. Innocent Pinot Noir”.

Once the guest has confirmed that it is indeed the correct bottle, you may begin opening it.

Using the knife on your wine key, cleanly slice the foil all the way around the top lip of the bottle and slip it into your apron. Quickly screw in your corkscrew making sure it is in far enough into the cork. (All of the curved part should be in the cork.) Gently pull out the cork without “popping” it.

If you are serving a bottle of champagne, remove the foil by means of the tab. Twist the wire on the cage until open. Then holding the top of the cork in one hand and the bottom of the bottle in the other, gently twist the bottle while pressing down on the cork. The desired effect is a hiss rather than a pop.

Set the cork in front of the person who ordered the wine for them to inspect if they want. Then pour them about an ounce for them to taste.

When they have approved the wine, you may pour for the rest of the table. Start by pouring for all of the ladies first, moving clockwise around the table. Then pour for all the gentlemen, and end with the person who ordered the wine.

The wine bottle should be held in one hand when you are pouring the wine. You can avoid spilling any wine on the table by gently twisting the wine bottle as you lift it from a glass and by holding a clean linen napkin in the other hand to wipe the lip after each pour.

Only pour three or four ounces for each guest and make sure everyone gets some wine. After you pour for everyone at the table, some wine should still be left in the bottle for those who would like seconds. If there are more than six people at the table, you should only pour a small amount to achieve this or offer to bring out a second bottle for their enjoyment.

Finish by setting the wine bottle down near the person who ordered it, label facing them.

This basic, formal wine presentation may have small alterations to it depending on the preference of the restaurant you are working at, but the sequence of steps will remain the same.

Your guests should appreciate your professionalism and knowledge the next you serve them a bottle of wine.