Bartenders Guide: Wine Service

Wine Service

"Manners" are often just a matter of doing things in a nice way. The ritual of wine service is exactly that, and is very easy to follow.

1. Begin with your Host. The Host, or in this example, Hostess, is the person who has ordered the bottle. It can be anyone at the table, male or female, and can change throughout the meal or bar service. If someone else orders an additional bottle, then that person becomes the Host for that round.

A) Present the bottle to the Host, label outward and wait for their approval, indicating that it is, in fact, the wine that they ordered.

B) Cut and remove the foil, placing it in your pocket or apron, then remove the cork. I will cover technique on another page, but know that this should be done without piercing the cork all the way through and without placing the bottle on the table.

C) Present the cork to the Host. People that watch too much television will often sniff it. Obviously, it will smell like wine and cork. If a wine is tainted, it will be evident in the tasting, which takes place momentarily. What both you and the Host should be looking for are mold, runners of wine along the sides of the cork, or bleeding of wine through any portion of the cork, which may indicate damage or improper storage.

D) Assuming the cork has no immediate evidence of damage, you may now hold the bottle (always label outward) and pour a small amount, no more than an ounce, into the Host's glass, finishing with a slight twisting motion and wiping the neck of the bottle with your linen. The bottle should not touch the glass, nor should you remove the glass from the table to pour.

E) The Host will taste the wine, and hopefully give their approval for you to begin serving. Occasionally, there may be a defect in the wine, or it was simply not what the Host expected. In the former, remove the defective bottle and glass immediately and offer your apologies. In the case of the latter, this is a tricky a bar or restaurant environment, most owners will be reluctant to take back a wine that is not defective, but simply not what the guest thought it was. Your best bet is to remove the wine immediately and inform the manager or owner. Let them take the loss if they so desire.

2. The rest is sheer simplicity: You may now proceed clockwise around the table, serving the ladies first, then returning to the first man from the Host's left and serving the men, also clockwise around the table. Keep in mind the number of guests you are serving and pour an appropriate amount. For eight guests, as pictured in the above example, no more than two ounces apiece.

3. Return to the Host, pour the same portion that their guests have received, and place the bottle either on the table or in the ice bucket, if it is a chilled wine. If the bottle is empty, remove it.

For the above example, the correct order (after allowing the Hostess to taste) would be seats 3, 6 and 8 (ladies), then 2, 4, 5 and 7 (men), followed by the Hostess.