Seven deadly sins of restaurant wine service

Sin No. 3: By-the-glass wines are poured out of sight of the table, and the bottle is never sighted. (Photo: Skitterphoto via Pexels)

I love eating out, especially when I know the establishment has a good wine offering. If they don’t allow BYO, I expect them to have something I’ll enjoy drinking. But even a good wine-list can be let down by bad service. With the holiday season approaching, it’s timely to flag the seven deadly sins of wine service.

1. The food arrives before the wine. You’ve sweated over an encyclopaedic wine list to find the right bottle, then the waiter does a disappearing act and, while your glasses are still empty, the dish arrives that you specifically wanted to eat with that wine. It’s a hot dish which is cooling, like your enthusiasm, by the minute.

The glassware is high-quality, fine crystal, but there’s someone else’s lip grunge on the rim.

2. You choose a bottle of Champagne to ‘lay the dust’. Twenty minutes later you ask where it is, as there are eight thirsty mouths around the table, and the waiter says it’s on ice. “So, why didn’t you tell me it wasn’t cold? I’d have ordered a different one!” This happened to me this year in a 2 chef’s hatted restaurant.

3. By-the-glass wines are poured out of sight of the table, and the bottle is never sighted. Assuming you aren’t an Olympic-class wine-taster, how can you be sure you weren’t served a different wine?

4. You ask the sommelier where such-and-such a wine comes from, and he regales you with a long-winded diatribe about the soils and history of that particular part of France. It’s designed to parade his knowledge and has nothing to do with service.

5. There are just two of you, and you opt for by-the-glass wine. The list has a couple of pinot grigios, a couple of Kiwi savvies, all of dubious quality, and the fizz runs out at a prosecco and a moscato. You protest: if the restaurant hadn’t forbidden you to BYO, you’d have had a great night – instead of a dry and disappointing one. And even with, say, $20 a head corkage, you’d have left happy and feeling you got value.

6. The glassware is high-quality, fine crystal, but there’s someone else’s lip grunge on the rim. This can happen even in expensive restaurants, but happily it’s rare.

7. The wine list hasn’t a single wine that you recognise – and you are customers who know their wines. Many listings are obscure foreign bottles and the local ones turn out, upon further inquiry, to be mostly ‘natural’ wines. You wish you’d stayed home.

One thought on “Seven deadly sins of restaurant wine service”

  1. Christian Maul says:

    Point 3; a dialog in a reputable Melbourne restaurant after receiving an ordered ‘Pinot Noir’:
    Can I please have the Pinot Noir I ordered?
    This is your Pinot Noir.
    No, it is not.
    Sorry, but I stoo beside the barman pouring your Pinot.
    Uhhm, Pinot Noir is red.
    Needless to say I haven’t been back…

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