How to Deal with the Rituals of Ordering a Bottle of Wine

Have you ever just ordered glasses of wine at a restaurant to avoid having to deal with the whole process involved in buying a bottle? It can seem a bit intimidating at first. Dealing with your server for a glass of wine seems to be a lot more expedient.  But ordering a bottle of wine isn't hard if you become comfortable with rituals involved.

First, ordering a bottle can be a great value. A standard 750 ml bottle of wine will yield approximately five to six glasses of wine. This is usually less expensive than ordering five or six individual glasses of wine at your table.  So take a deep breath, order a bottle and you'll quickly learn to deal with the rituals.

Once you've chosen your bottle of wine your server should bring the unopened bottle to your table and present you with the bottle, showing you the label.  This is simply done to ensure they have brought the correct bottle that you ordered. You simply need to take a quick look at the label and then let your server know "That's correct" or "That looks good!"

Next, your server will take out a corkscrew, remove the foil capsule covering the cork, and extract the cork.  Your server will typically place the cork in front of you.  You don't need to smell the cork. But you should do a quick inspection of it. Look to see if there is any evidence of the wine having leaked up any of the sides. This should be obvious for either a white or red wine. A small amount of seepage up the side of the cork is normal in a bottle of wine that has spent some time on its side.  You just don't want to see the entire cork soaked or soggy. And don't be afraid to ask your server about any thing that looks unusual.

Next, your server will pour a small taste for the person who ordered the wine. This is not meant to be your opportunity to sample a bunch of wines before you find the right one. The small taste is simply meant to allow you to confirm that the bottle that you order has not gone bad. And, again, you'll immediately know. If you smell strong obnoxious odors of wet cardboard or the smell of a wet dog, the wine has gone bad. But, assuming the wine is fine, simply let your server know that it's fine.  They will then pour the wine for others at the table and return to pour your glass. Oh, and remember, a properly poured glass of wine is about one-third full, not to the rim.

The bottle will then be left on the table. If you are drinking a bottle of sparkling wine, the server may provide an ice bucket or you may request one. A good server will keep watch on your table and ensure that everyone's glass remains full and offer to bring another bottle, if necessary. But feel free to pick up the bottle and pour more for those at the table and yourself.

And that's it.  It's really quite simple. A wine server should be there to aid you in the process, not make it difficult or intimidating.  Here's to your next bottle. Cheers!