Friday, February 19, 2010

"R" if for Romancing the Grape

Wine service is an important part of the hospitality and restaurant industries, a fact that too few restaurateurs recognize.

On more than one occasion, I have ordered a bottle of wine, only to discover that the server is unskilled in recommending and presenting the wine.

The restaurateur needs to know that, while choosing great wines for the restaurant is a major factor in attracting food and wine lovers, so too is presenting the wine in proper glassware.

Nothing is more disappointing than purchasing a $50 to $80 bottle of wine and having to drink it from glasses that might have been purchased at a dollar store. Don't get me wrong; I love the Dollar Store. But it's not the stop to shop for quality restaurant or home wine glassware. There are plenty of shops that carry inexpensive, durable wine glasses that are the right shape and so enhance the aromas and flavours of your favourite grape varieties.

While a great wine list and quality glasses are aspects to proper service, romancing the grape begins with its presentation at your table. Restaurateurs mark up wines dramatically. Therefore, as customers, we deserve to get a little dog and pony show if we are to pay these exorbitant prices.

Wine should be opened properly and served in the traditional style, with the server standing to the right of the diner. Proper serving techniques are another factor that helps justify the sometimes unreasonable cost of a bottle of wine.

The best way to convince restaurant owners to train their staff in wine service is for us, the consumers, to begin demanding it. Servers should do their homework and taste the wines offered on the wine list. Tasting wine? How can that be considered arduous? The more a server knows about wine, the more confident his/her recommendations, the better the customers' experience and the greater the server's tips. Servers must know more than a wine's colour. They should be able to pronounce and identify the various grape varieties, names of wines and regions. Proper pronunciation, alone, would increase the level of wine service offered to us, the consumers.

So, in the next few blogs I'm going to be covering the topic of proper restaurant wine service.

Topics will include how a wine list should be constructed and how the wines should be presented and opened at your dining table. At the very least, these tips will contribute to your overall enjoyment of wine while dining out.

See you back here next week!

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