Friday, 6 September 2013

Tips For Waiters: Proper Wine Service

Anyone who has worked in hospitality but not had proper training in wine service will know how uncomfortable it can be when you have to serve wine to a table.
If you aren't 100% sure about what you are doing but Lord Snooty on table 10 has just ordered a bottle of something French and expensive, not being confident can lead to an unimpressed customer and you feeling rubbish.

Because I'm a really thoughtful and considerate person (I'm also really modest too), I have put together a step-by-step guide to serving wine by the bottle.

Things you’ll need:

Cork-screw, Serving cloth, super sexy body.

1. While taking the wine order, you want to make eye contact with your customer and repeat their wine choice, so as to avoid any possible mix-up or confusion. If for example the customer orders a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and you have two on the list, be sure to find out which one they would like. It’s better to avoid any mistakes happening in the first place than having to rectify them later.

2. Once you have taken the order, you want to make sure you deal with it immediately to avoid any unnecessary delays - Mr Snooty Customer Man (thats a made up name) doesn't like to have to wait to get his drink on. This is when the 7 P’s are important – Propper Planning and Preperation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Before service starts, make sure you have enough wine glasses polished and ready for use, clean serving cloths and that the wine is stored at correct service temperature. Having Ice buckets prepped too is essential.

3. When you have your glasses on the table, along with an ice bucket (if it is a bottle of white, rosé or fizz) make sure you have a folded napkin / side towel for your service. before approaching the table with the wine, double-check the name of the wine once more, to avoid any mistakes.

4. When you approach the table, head for the customer who ordered the bottle and show them the label, just to check it's DEFINITLEY the right one. Part of the presentation is to again, repeat the name of the wine and vintage, just to be sure.

5. Once your host approves the bottle, pull the cork out, or even easier; unscrew the cap. Make sure you are doing this facing the guest who ordered the wine and when possible make sure the label is facing them. Remembering to pour a taster for the guest who ordered the bottle before you serve anyone else, hold the bottle by the base, with the label facing up. When you finish the pour, twist the bottle to avoid any drips, have your serving cloth in the other hand and touch it to the lip of the bottle to be extra sure.

6. After the guest approves the wine (at this stage, it isn’t to see if they ‘like’ the wine, the guest should be checking to see if there are any faults; cork taint, oxidation etc.), go around the table and pour ladies first then go round again for the blokes. Provided you have good glassware with an appropriate shape, you should not pour the wine any higher than the widest point of the glass. You always want to pour everyone else first, and the guest who taste tested it last. It is important to remember about catching rogue drips before they occur because even if you pour perfectly, if at the end of the service you get a noticeable stain on the table, nobody will be happy. However, you may be able to suck the remnants of vino out of the tablecloth when they leave...

Once everyone has got a glass, you should place a bottle of red in the centre of the table, label facing the guest who ordered it or if it is a white, ask if they would like it in the ice bucket that you bought out earlier, 9 times out of 10 they will say yes but it’s important to make the guest feel in charge.

NEVER approach a table with an open bottle, unless they are buying wine by the glass. It is VITAL that a bottle of wine is presented to the guests sealed, as this is a guarantee that an expensive bottle has not just been filled with something cheap. It happens and restaurants who do this dirty trick end up in serious trouble. (you can tell by my use of capitals that I'M BEAING REALLY SERIOUS AND/OR SHOUTING).

Have you ever had any cock-ups when serving wine? I would really like to hear about them. I had a friend who poured red down the back of a bride's wedding dress once... Let us know either below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

photo taken from NovatosDelVino's photostream, under the creative commons licence.

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