How to Pour Wine for Guests / Patrons

Whether you have special friends over, or you're a waiter or waitress at a nice restaurant, it's always good manners to know how to serve a bottle of wine properly! Here are the steps to follow.

Present the Bottle

You always want the drinkers to know what they're about to drink. Show them the bottle, with the label and vintage clearly showing. They will want to check the winery name and vintage to ensure both are what they want. I've been served the wrong vintage *several* times at restaurants, and it really does make a difference what year you get for many wines.

Open the Bottle

Whether it's a Champagne cork, a regular cork, a screwcap or any other closure, open the bottle with a minimum of noise and fuss. Your sole aim is to get the cork off without letting the wine escape, the bubbles escape or bits of cork fall into the bottle. Note that you don't need to show the cork off. That was really only done to prove to the buyer that the cork matched the wine - i.e. that the restaurant hadn't pre-opened the bottle, poured out the good wine, and poured in bad wine, then corking it with a new cork. People don't usually worry about that sort of thing in modern times.

Pour Out a Sample

10% of all wine bottles with cork in the top end up "corked" - that is, mold naturally found in tree bark taints the wine's flavor. It ends up tasting like cardboard and wet paper. You always want to taste a wine to see if you detect those flaws. The wine is served to whoever ordered the bottle - male OR female, young OR old. That person swirls it, takes a sip, and says whether they think it is OK or not.

Pour Out the Wine

It's usually best to serve clockwise around the table, standing over the right shoulder of each person as you pour. Never fill up a wine glass fully - you want it half full at most, so there's room for the person to swirl the wine and release its aromas. They can always refill (or the waiter can) when they need more. It's also less likely for the person to spill it that way. Some restaurants pour the womens' wine and then the mens' - but those are usually the restaurants that give women menus without prices on them :) A personal pet peeve of mine. In fact I was at a restaurant like that once, with my boyfriend and another single friend, and the single female friend got a priceless menu even though she was paying her own bill! What, was she supposed to guess at prices?

Leave the Remaining Bottle in a Cooler

No wine - neither red nor white - should be served at "room temperature". They should all be kept chilled to varying degrees for serving.

NOTE: If the wine needs decanting, you're sort of in trouble - wine can't "breathe" in 5 minutes. It needs to be in a decanter for 30 minutes to an hour usually. Just popping the cork and letting the wine sit, in bottle, for 5 minutes isn't going to make any difference. Also, a wine that needs decanting is one that has sediment - meaning if you have to go down into the cellar, bring it upstairs, pour it into a decanter - some of that sediment is going to be mixed into the wine. I doubt it'll settle back out in 30 minutes! Although I will do an experiment on that soon :)

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.