Put a Cork In It


Wine has surged in popularity lately, and with that renewed interest comes a more watchful eye on wine etiquette. Make sure your servers not only know the steps to properly opening and serving wine, but have plenty of opportunities to practice these skills before they’re in front of guests. Servers won’t sell what they’re afraid to serve. Make sure they have the confidence to both suggest the best wines for each guest, and deliver, open, and pour that wine expertly.

The Basics of Serving Wine

Present the bottle, label out, to the person who ordered it (the host) and repeat the wine’s name.

  • With the knife part of the corkscrew, cut just below the lip of the bottle to remove the foil (put the foil in your apron).
  • Wipe the top of the bottle with a clean cloth napkin. Put the corkscrew in and slowly pull it out to open the bottle.
  • Remove the cork and put it in front of the host. Wipe off the top of the bottle again and pour a sample of wine into the host’s glass.
  • After the host approves the wine, pour it clockwise around the table to women first, men second and the host last.
  • Pour each glass about two-thirds full, taking care that the bottle doesn’t touch the glass.
  • Place red wines on the table in front of the host. White wine bottles should be placed in a ceramic or metal chiller.

Top 5 Mistakes Servers Make When Serving Wine

Like any good service, excellence exists in the details. Servers will often be able to master the basics, then botch the subtleties. Here are the top five mistakes we see servers make:

  • Cutting the foil on the lip of the bottle. The foil should be cut just below the lip.
  • Using the wine opener to remove the cork. The opener should ease the cork out to the last quarter-inch or so, at which point the server should remove the cork by hand.
  • Twisting the bottle to remove the cork. Its the cork that should be twisted, with the bottles label always facing the guest who placed the order.
  • Popping the cork. No more than a breath of air should be heard when the cork leaves the bottle.
  • Dripping during the pour. A slow twisting action after each pour will usually prevent dripping. A clean linen draped over the forearm can blot up the occasional escapees.

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