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4 Wine Etiquette Tips for Your Next Restaurant Visit

Have you ever had a waiter at a restaurant or someone else at your table fill your wine glass to the rim? Even though you will probably end up drinking all that wine, it’s not supposed to all be in the glass at once. Lol. Or did you know you know could sample a wine before ordering the whole bottle? There’s a little trick to be able to ‘try before you buy’ for some of the bottles on the wine list. If you wanna impress your dinner companions with your wine etiquette, check out the tips below.

How to Try Before You Buy

In most cases, your only choice is to blindly commit to a bottle of wine by picking one from the wine list or accepting the waiter’s recommendation. But there is a trick if you want to sample something. If the restaurant already has the wine open, you can usually ask for a small taste of one or maybe two wines. Wines that are available by the glass are pretty much always open and can be sampled but sometimes other wines on the list could be open. Feel free to just ask – it's not considered bad taste. This tip also applies to ordering a glass of wine as well - you can ask to sample before committing to a glass of wine if you want.

What To Do When the Wine Is Presented

When your bottle of wine arrives at the table, you are considered the designated taster if you are the one who ordered the wine. But if you don’t wanna do it, tell the waiter who will. They will (or should) show that person the bottle face forward to confirm that the vintage and producer are indeed what was ordered. If they don't, the taster should verbally ask. It's important to double check cause not all vintages of a wine are equal.. Once that's confirmed, the waiter will pour a small sample into the taster’s glass. The taster’s job is to determine if the wine is faulty. It’s not so much a question of whether you like the wine or not - unless it's a case where you got a hard sell on a bottle of wine. In that case, if you don't like it, don't accept it. But in most situations, the taster's job is to just make sure you're not getting vinegar. If the taster says ok, then the waiter should pour some of the wine for all of the guests. The taster will be served last. Or should be. If the waiter tries to pour the taster first, the taster should direct the waiter to pour everyone else first instead. Not only is it proper etiquette, but it's always a gesture that impresses.

Sending Wine Back?

It’s totally appropriate to send a wine back if there is a fault – like it’s corked or smells like nail polish or has turned to vinegar. If you believe your wine is faulty, the proper way to handle it is to explain what you think is wrong and ask for someone at the restaurant to taste it and see if they agree. They will replace it if it's faulty. It's a much harder call if you just don't like the wine. If your server picked your wine and you don't like it, then it's ok to send it back. You won't be considered that guy if you do. But if you picked it yourself, then you're sort of out of luck. Most restaurants wouldn't refuse you but it would be considered inappropriate to send it back in this case. If you're not confident in your wine choosing skills, ask the server for a recommendation and give yourself some cover. Impress your dinner companions by first telling the server a little bit about what you like in wine and then asking for their opinion.

How Full Should the Glass Be?

Whether you pour the bottle or the waiter does, the proper way to pour a "glass" of wine is to fill the glass about a 1/4 full. This way you have enough room to swirl the wine in the glass and let it absorb some oxygen (otherwise known as letting the wine open up). Then you can truly experience the aroma and flavor of the wine. Filling a wine glass to the rim takes away the experiential part of wine while its in the glass but ensuring the wine is poured properly will make you look like a total pro.


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