If you are a lover of wine, you probably acknowledge the fact that one can enjoy it fully when best served. But the question now is – how do you serve you wine in the best way? Well, much is involved, and this blog is going to address that. Specifically, we will be looking at service of different types of wine. So let us begin right away. But hold on, before going deeper into this tutorial, let me tell you, so far we have shared the following tutorials:
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Topics Covered in this Guide
Taking an order
The wine service process usually starts with an order by a customer for a particular wine bottle on the table. Make sure you get to hear clearly the bottle being requested, if you do not understand, ask the customer to point it out on the menu.
Formally, you should not ask the customer how many glasses of wine they need to be brought, just come with the number of glasses as the people on the table, if any of them will not be taking wine, you will be signaled not to pour.
Bringing wine and glasses
- The wine glasses should be impeccably clean and spotless, you can clean them by holding them top-down over a steaming bowl of hot water, you can then polish them with paper towels, but coffee filters will do a great that leaving them without lint.
- Ensure you bring the right glasses, different wines are ideal with different glasses, for instance, dessert wine glasses tend to be smaller since these dessert wines contain more sugar and alcohol content. Also, certain wine glasses allow air in more than others, and therefore, they control the aroma of the wine more than others.
- Glass is placed to the right of each guest and is keyed off the knife. Actual positioning is often dictated by house style or size of the table (but the standard format for one wine glass & water glass would be to place the wine glass above the large knife with the water glass diagonally below to the right or diagonally above to the left).
- Many different placements are acceptable. Still, it is essential that the offering of glass is identical for each guest.
- You should place the glass starting with the host and to the left and continues clockwise to finish with the host. Under- liners for the bottle & Cork (If to be left on the table) are placed to the right of the host. (or within easy reach)
- Bring glasses, wine key/corkscrew, wine, and wine bucket to the table. Depending on your restaurant specifications set the wine table where it is supposed to be (table or portable wine bucket stands that come closer to the table)
- In case the customer ordered white wine, ensure you bring with the wine bucket having ice in it. Do not put the wine in ice yet, you do not want to tamper with the labels.
- Hand the wine to whoever placed an order. You are required to hold the wine bottle with one hand at the bottom and one at the top revealing the label to the customer, also repeat the name of the wine, for example, the 1879 Linea Caliente Malbec. The customer would approve if it is what was ordered or send you for another bottle if you got it wrong.
NOTE: The wine bottle should never be opened before service or tampered with the labels and foils.
Uncorking the wine glass
- Use the blade on the wine key to tear the foil top and place the foil in your apron pocket and not on the table.
- Cut the foil at the bottom lip. This ensures that stray drops do not spoil the table cloth while pouring, and it is the tradition as well.
- Use your wine key to remove the cork and place it wet side up in front of the person who ordered.
- While opening the wine bottle, you should NEVER put the bottle on the table, learn to uncork away from a flat surface, and you should always be careful to maintain the wine label facing the person who ordered the wine in the whole process.
- Always check the type of closure on the bottle, not all bottles are closed with corks, some use zorks and bottle top twists, so you should never use the corkscrew on every wine bottle you try to open.
Pouring the wine
- Once opened, pour a small amount in the glass of the person who ordered the wine, ensure not to touch the glass while pouring.
- The customer will check the wine by either swirling, smelling, color, texture or sipping it. After approval, you can proceed to service.
- Service should start with ladies from left clockwise, with the host’s glass being the last to fill.
- Otherwise, if there is a guest of honor on the table, then serve the person first, then proceed to the rest in the standard order.
- A standard pour of wine is normally five to six ounces, regardless of the sizes of the glasses. Red wine glasses are large, therefore, if you fill up to the brim, some may be left out, similarly, for white wine, you do not want it to warm, pouring too much in the glass will warm before the customer consumes it. So, pour just under 7 ounces to make sure standard temperatures are maintained, and it is sharable.
- Twist the bottle slightly as you raise the angle of the bottle at the end of each pour & wipe the bottleneck with the cloth being used for service to prevent drips to the table.
- Place the bottle on an underliner, coaster, bucket or cooler (for white wine). If the wine is at the correct temperature, it is also appropriate to leave it on a coaster or in an insulated cylinder on a plate or coaster.
- At this point, you should ask the host if you may remove the cork.
Decanting or no decanting
Some people argue that wine is a breathing, living thing, well, whatever your take is, it is a general observation that some wines do taste better when decanted. Preferably the old and young tannin wines. Old wines are decanted to remove sedimentation, but take note; they are very delicate.
Decanting red wines improves their flavor. Basically, you put wine into a glass pitcher or decanter and let it sit for about an hour. Alternatively, you can use wine decanters, which will have the job done almost instantly.
Most affordable wines have this characteristic smell of steamed garlic or rotten egg, this peculiar smell is due to a minor hitch in fermentation where the yeast could not get enough nutrients during fermentation in large industrial fermentation plants. Decanting such wine will make it more consumable or, you can stir the wine directly with a stainless steel spoon.
Points on Service of Specific Wines
Sparkling wines and champagnes
- Present the bottle in the air and open it or open it in a bucket on a stand
- Prepare correct glasses, Tulips or flutes, bucket, & stand to contain iced water enough to cover the bottle up to the neck.
- Make sure the wine is cold enough for service. (5-7˚C)
- Position the glasses for each guest. Place a cork under-liner to the host’s right.
- Place the bucket and stand to the right-hand side of the host and put a clean service towel or serviette on top.
- You should present the bottle and announce the name of the wine and vintage for confirmation.
- Cut the foil at the bottom of the cage.
- Remove the foil and place it in the pocket.
- Exercise caution by pointing the cork away from the guests.
- Untwist and loosen the cage for later removal. On average, one should twist 6 times, keeping the thumb on the cork at all times.
- Firm your grip and twist the bottle away from the cork holding the bottle at an angle of 45˚. This is done in the air or in the bucket but never against the body or on the table.
- Gently release the cork with little or no noise and hold the bottle at an angle of 45˚ until the gas dissipates.
- Remove the cage from the cork and place it in the pocket of your apron.
- Place the cork on under-liner to guest’s right.
- Pouring should be done in a single stream. However, two pours permitted if necessary. Always ensure you complete pouring for one guest before moving on to the next.
- Hold the bottle by the punt with two fingers under the neck for support.
- After pouring, place the wine in a bucket and stand it to the host’s right-hand side.
Equipment required: Clean decanter (guéridon), Candle, matches, Cork removal key, multiple clean serviettes, decanting basket, 3 under-liners for cork. If a guéridon is not available, a small table may be placed by the guests’ table.
- Should be served warm, at about 60-70 degrees
- Place the correct glassware for the wine on the table
- A guéridon (decanter) is indispensable for decanting. Therefore, all materials should be placed on it before putting it alongside the table.
- Line the decanting basket with a clean serviette and go for the selected bottle.
- Place the bottle in the basket carefully, care to make sure the labels are not soaked, and the sediments are not disturbed.
- Light the candle away from the table and place the guéridon on the host’s right-hand side.
- Present the bottle in the basket to the host and announce the wine and vintage verbally.
- Return the basket and bottle to the guéridon and position for opening. If the decanting basket angle is too low, prop with an under-liner or serviette
- Cut the foil below the second lip and remove it. Wipe the lip with a clean serviette
- Carefully remove the cork without moving the bottle.
- Wipe the lip carefully, again
- Carefully lift the bottle from the basket. Pick up the decanter in the other hand and position yourself so that you can see the light of the candle through the glass of the bottleneck.
- Pour the wine slowly and steadily into the decanter in a single pour. Do not touch the neck of the bottle to the neck of the decanter.
- Pour steadily until the sediment appears in the neck but does not enter the decanter. Careful pouring will minimize the amount of wine remaining in the bottle.
- Present the cork on an underliner
- Wipe the bottle on a clean serviette and place on an under-liner on the table
- Wine is served from the decanter for the host to taste and service is completed in the standard manner.
- Place the decanter on an underliner on the table.
- Ask the host if the cork and the empty bottle may be removed.
- should be served cold at about 40-50 degrees
- Open the bottle of wine next to or close by the table, preferably to the hosts’ right and place it in an ice bucket and place the bucket next to the hosts’ table to the hosts’ right. Or, open it in the ice bucket and serve.
- Return the bottle to the bucket after pouring the wine.
- Open in the air and return to an ice bucket and stand placed on the hosts right or to a cooler on an under-liner on the table (hosts directly) Opening in the air is common practice at a cash function with the bottle is placed on an under-liner on the table or in an ice bucket close by.
- Other standard procedures apply.
- At a constant temperature, 10 -13˚c ideal for long term storage.
- Where they can be easily reached in an organized manner.
- Away from unpleasant smells that could penetrate corks.
- Away from insect & rodent pests – damage to labels, corks & boxes.
- Lying down since moisture keeps corks intact.
- Store spirits and Sherries standing up.
- Red wine tastes better when served slightly below room temperatures, about 53-69 °F.
- White wine tastes great from about 44-57 °F.
- Sparkles and champagnes do great at 38-45 °F.
The Bottom Line
Wine can be best enjoyed if best served. You may have wondered the rationale behind this discussion at the outset. However, to this end, I believe you have acknowledged the fact that it is involved in serving wine. This explains why businesses do all it takes to hire the best waiters out there. We hope this discussion has been helpful. Thank you!