I see it a lot. A person orders a bottle of wine. Then, when the bottle comes to the table for the presentation of the wine, PANIC! Many people don’t know what to do at this point. When I pour the host a sample of the wine, some people look at me with fear. Some people will wave their hand and state, “I’ve had this wine before, you can just pour it.” Some people will simple ask another person to be in charge of the wine, because they are not “fancy” enough to participate. The goal of wine service is absolutely NOT to make anyone feel uncomfortable or silly. The goal is to make sure the wine served IS the bottle ordered and the wine is good.
Next, the cork will be presented to the host. Nothing really needs to be done with the cork. This is a throwback from the Middle Ages when counterfeit wines were more common. The cork would be shown to prove that the wine coming out of the bottle actually was the wine it was supposed to be. Many people like to smell the cork or make sure the cork is intact. The host may choose to look at the cork or to ignore it.
The host will be responsible for the initial tasting of the wine. A small pour, usually around an ounce, will be served to the host for approval. The reason for the pour is to make sure that the wine isn’t spoiled. If you believe there is something wrong with the wine, simply tell the server. The server will remove the wine and the manager will taste the wine to determine if there is something wrong. If there is a problem, the bottle will be replaced. If nothing is wrong, the bottle may be returned to the table.
Although the purpose of tasting the wine is to determine that is has no faults, a problem may occur if the host simply doesn’t like the wine. All establishments want people to be happy with their choice, however, each establishment may deal with this issue in a different manner. If possible, the bottle will be removed and the customer may order another bottle. However, if the bottle is pricy, the customer may still be told that the bottle can’t be replaced.
If the host approves, everyone else at the table will be served 3-4 ounces of wine and then the host will be given an additional amount after everyone else is served. The entire bottle will not be poured, in case, the table has additional guests who arrive and would like to partake in the wine.
Ultimately, remember that if you are ordering wine, you are already winning. If you have questions, ask the server! Feel free to talk to the sommelier or the manager on duty about wine. The wine serving process is really about protecting the consumer. We want you to be happy, enjoy your wine and most importantly, enjoy your evening.