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Let us face it. North Americans are just starting to drink wine in earnest. Restaurant managers and servers must promote and serve wine with a positive attitude, free of snobbish rituals, which are best reserved for those who like to pretend.
Wine in many countries, is an everyday, reasonably priced alcoholic beverage, usually consumed with food. In most restaurants, even today, servers fail to present the wine list along with the menu. Needless to say, all wines featured must be appropriately selected to complement the food, and above all, must be reasonably priced. The majority of the dining-out public refuses to pay exorbitant prices, therefore settles for a bottle of beer. Some often order tap water which generates work but no revenue.
A knowledgeable sommelier (wine waiter) helps increase beverage sales, particularly wine. However, a sommelier must be carefully chosen and trained to satisfy your clientele. The order must be taken shortly after the food has been ordered, hopefully with one or well chosen suggestions.
Once the bottle is presented and opened in the full view of guests, it is best for the wine waiter to smell and check the cork, rather than presenting it like a proud cat a trophy mouse.
If the wine is faulty, the server must immediately remove it and bring another bottle. Unbelievably, there are servers who have no clue about wine faults such as corky smell, oxidized, maderized wines, vinegary smelling products, and wines emanating the smell of geranium.
Presenting the cork is an ancient tradition dating back to late 1800’s when fraud was rampant and unscrupulous restaurateurs would fill “plonk” into well known label bottles.
Wineries decided to brand their corks to prevent fraud. Corks were presented to be read and not smelled!
I believe eliminating the ritual of cork presentation in a well-managed restaurant can be dispensed with. Of course, wine waiters must be trained to know enough never to serve a faulty wine, after taking a sip with the permission of the guest.
Wine must always be served at the right temperature and in an appropriate glass, never more than 1/3 full, and topped up when required.
Such will be rated as laudable service!
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu
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