Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

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J Murphy
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Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#1 Post by J Murphy » February 7th, 2019, 2:17 pm

Hello

I wanted to see what others had to say about this topic.

12 of the extended family were out to dinner at a typical Italian restaurant. Most people weren't wine drinkers or knew much about wine. I ordered several bottles of "good" wine.

The waiter would stop by every 15 minutes or so and take the bottles and top off most people glasses, the bottles were dropping fast. It just so happened he was doing this to the people who have the least interest and knowledge about wine. They would have just been as happy drinking water. The seating configuration was several long tables end to end. He would leave the bottles pretty much as far away from where I was sitting (Murphys Law).

How does one handel this situation.

Tell the waiter kindly at the beginning of the meal to please not pour?

Or purchase some low end bottles of wine and leave them near the ones that could care less about wine?

I realize this is really two different topics/ questions.

Thanks
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#2 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » February 7th, 2019, 2:20 pm

Be direct and polite: ask the waiter to not pour the wines for you. I *hate* it when a waiter tries to fast-pour through a bottle --- it's presumptuous and annoying.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#3 Post by Robert M yers » February 7th, 2019, 2:23 pm

We typically let the waiter pour the first glass and then tell him/her politely that we will be happy to handle it from there on out. Never had a problem after that.
Last edited by Robert M yers on February 7th, 2019, 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#4 Post by John Morris » February 7th, 2019, 2:31 pm

I agree.

It would be too much to expect the waiter in "a typical Italian restaurant" to remember whose glass to refill and whose should be left.

Tell them not to repour and then have a good bottle at your end of the table.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#5 Post by AAgrawal » February 7th, 2019, 2:48 pm

I do what others here do and tell the waiter that we will pour for ourselves. I've only had a problem with this once... other times it's been just fine.

Exceptions for me are very high end 1-2+ Michelin starred restaurants. If I'm out to dinner with family, I'll tell them people's preferences at the beginning (Person A likes white more, so overpour that, but will just try a bit of the red) and let them take it from there.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#6 Post by Andrew W. » February 7th, 2019, 2:49 pm

I was at a high end restaurant in Paris 2 weeks ago. Wife wanted a glass with dinner so I got a bottle. Waiter kept filling both glasses every 5 minutes and kept putting more and more in hers. I poured some in mine, he came over and scolded me, took the bottle away from me and put in on a chair 10 ft away. 15 minutes later a waiter passing but knocks the bottle over and spilled the rest. No apology, chef came out and gave me a glass of whatever he was drinking (which was very nice) I'm sure knowing they messed up, but still no apology. Wife begged I not make a scene so I obliged.

Crazy for such a well reviewed place.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#7 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » February 7th, 2019, 2:50 pm

Andrew W. wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 2:49 pm
I was at a high end restaurant in Paris 2 weeks ago. Wife wanted a glass with dinner so I got a bottle. Waiter kept filling both glasses every 5 minutes and kept putting more and more in hers. I poured some in mine, he came over and scolded me, took the bottle away from me and put in on a chair 10 ft away. 15 minutes later a waiter passing but knocks the bottle over and spilled the rest. No apology, chef came out and gave me a glass of whatever he was drinking (which was very nice) I'm sure knowing they messed up, but still no apology. Wife begged I not make a scene so I obliged.

Crazy for such a well reviewed place.
Which restaurant? I really don't see the point in not outing them.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#8 Post by Morten Båtbukt » February 7th, 2019, 2:59 pm

I am a somm working the floor and if guests let me know that I shouldn’t pour I’m fine with it.

Also, there are very few times when scolding a guest is okay, and this surely isn’t one.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#9 Post by John Glas » February 7th, 2019, 3:05 pm

In Minneapolis we have great corkage fees so I only bring in my own wine. I always decant and after they pour the first glass I just take it from there. I always offer the server a taste and many times they just wave the corkage fee after some wine talk. I think many wine directors/ Somms just like to talk to people who actually enjoy wine.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#10 Post by YLee » February 7th, 2019, 3:10 pm

Sorry to hijack but once I had cheap wine and a chateau Margaux at the same table. Stupid waiter poured the cheap wine into my glass that was half filled with the Margaux.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#11 Post by YLee » February 7th, 2019, 3:12 pm

Andrew W. wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 2:49 pm
I was at a high end restaurant in Paris 2 weeks ago. Wife wanted a glass with dinner so I got a bottle. Waiter kept filling both glasses every 5 minutes and kept putting more and more in hers. I poured some in mine, he came over and scolded me, took the bottle away from me and put in on a chair 10 ft away. 15 minutes later a waiter passing but knocks the bottle over and spilled the rest. No apology, chef came out and gave me a glass of whatever he was drinking (which was very nice) I'm sure knowing they messed up, but still no apology. Wife begged I not make a scene so I obliged.

Crazy for such a well reviewed place.
If this happened to me I would have iterally broken the arm that he favored.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#12 Post by etomasi » February 7th, 2019, 3:24 pm

I'm always reminded of this article on the subject by the late Christopher Hitchens.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/200 ... nkers.html
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#13 Post by Paul McCourt » February 7th, 2019, 3:49 pm

Robert M yers wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 2:23 pm
We typically let the waiter pour the first glass and then tell him/her politely that we will be happy to handle it from there on out. Never had a problem after that.
Pretty much this.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#14 Post by Mark Y » February 7th, 2019, 3:53 pm

YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 3:10 pm
Sorry to hijack but once I had cheap wine and a chateau Margaux at the same table. Stupid waiter poured the cheap wine into my glass that was half filled with the Margaux.
next time make the Margaux the cheap wine of the table! problem solved! ;)

but man that is a disaster.. i mean that's kinda their job..
Y.e.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#15 Post by YLee » February 7th, 2019, 3:55 pm

Mark Y wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 3:53 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 3:10 pm
Sorry to hijack but once I had cheap wine and a chateau Margaux at the same table. Stupid waiter poured the cheap wine into my glass that was half filled with the Margaux.
next time make the Margaux the cheap wine of the table! problem solved! ;)

but man that is a disaster.. i mean that's kinda their job..
Lol. That's a good idea!
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#16 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » February 7th, 2019, 4:01 pm

AAgrawal wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 2:48 pm
I do what others here do and tell the waiter that we will pour for ourselves. I've only had a problem with this once... other times it's been just fine.

Exceptions for me are very high end 1-2+ Michelin starred restaurants. If I'm out to dinner with family, I'll tell them people's preferences at the beginning (Person A likes white more, so overpour that, but will just try a bit of the red) and let them take it from there.
Why not pour at high end restaurants? They should do even more to cater to your desires.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#17 Post by John Glas » February 7th, 2019, 4:14 pm

Sorry to hijack but once I had cheap wine and a chateau Margaux at the same table. Stupid waiter poured the cheap wine into my glass that was half filled with the Margaux.
No tip needed!

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#18 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » February 7th, 2019, 4:28 pm

Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:01 pm

Why not pour at high end restaurants? They should do even more to cater to your desires.
Absolutely disagree.

What if a Michelin reviewer is sitting two tables away from you and sees you (repeatedly) pouring your own wine? Will he think that is what you requested or that the restaurant's wine service is subpar?

At any "high-end" restaurant, I usually send the wines ahead, and if not, I bring them in my "gentlemen's weekender" and discreetly hand it to the host(ess) and ask them to give the bag to the somm. That's the last I touch the bottles.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#19 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » February 7th, 2019, 4:46 pm

I am the opposite. I prefer my wine at the table at the correct temperature and the somm to be available if I have questions or would like something else but otherwise leave the wines for me to pour as we’d like.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#20 Post by YLee » February 7th, 2019, 4:53 pm

I'm with Michael on this. I prefer to pour on my own pace and I dont want someone interrupting my meal over it.

As far as a michelin reviewer, thats not my concern. Im not dining there to cater to their needs.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#21 Post by Kirk.Grant » February 7th, 2019, 4:56 pm

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 2:20 pm
Be direct and polite: ask the waiter to not pour the wines for you. I *hate* it when a waiter tries to fast-pour through a bottle --- it's presumptuous and annoying.
+100

I was at one restaurant where the waiter told me that he was instructed by the owner that he had to pour. After saying this, I smiled and said I understood and let him know that I didn't want more than 1/4 in the wine glass at any time. It worked out well for both of us.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#22 Post by Paul McCourt » February 7th, 2019, 5:35 pm

YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:53 pm
I'm with Michael on this. I prefer to pour on my own pace and I dont want someone interrupting my meal over it.

As far as a michelin reviewer, thats not my concern. Im not dining there to cater to their needs.
If there is a circumstance in which I prefer to pour my the wine myself, it would make for a very interesting conversation if they flat out refused to allow me to do so.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#23 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » February 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm

YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:53 pm
I'm with Michael on this. I prefer to pour on my own pace and I dont want someone interrupting my meal over it.

As far as a michelin reviewer, thats not my concern. Im not dining there to cater to their needs.
Attitudes like that are probably why I read not so infrequent posts about issues at restaurants while it is an extremely rare occurence for me.

If you don't want a qualified somm to do his job, stay home or go to a pizzeria.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#24 Post by YLee » February 7th, 2019, 5:56 pm

R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:53 pm
I'm with Michael on this. I prefer to pour on my own pace and I dont want someone interrupting my meal over it.

As far as a michelin reviewer, thats not my concern. Im not dining there to cater to their needs.
Attitudes like that are probably why I read not so infrequent posts about issues at restaurants while it is an extremely rare occurence for me.

If you don't want a qualified somm to do his job, stay home or go to a pizzeria.
Attitude like what? Do you really need a somm to pour your own glass? You must have a Somm at home. Lol
You come off so snobby.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#25 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » February 7th, 2019, 6:00 pm

I mean; I think it depends on the situation. If you’re drinking one bottle with dinner, it’s different than if you have multiple bottles and sets of stems. I haven’t had an issue with somms at any restaurants I’ve been to, Michelin 3 star or otherwise, as I’ll generally tell them exactly what I want and it’s very little work for them. At most tasting menu places with corkage we’ll bring a bottle of nice champagne and buy a half bottle or glasses of red from the list and I’ll tell them the plan when I arrive and haven’t ever had a problem.

I imagine most somms have much more difficult guests than knowledgeable people who have a clear idea of what they want.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#26 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » February 7th, 2019, 6:17 pm

Kirk.Grant wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:56 pm
Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 2:20 pm
Be direct and polite: ask the waiter to not pour the wines for you. I *hate* it when a waiter tries to fast-pour through a bottle --- it's presumptuous and annoying.
+100

I was at one restaurant where the waiter told me that he was instructed by the owner that he had to pour. After saying this, I smiled and said I understood and let him know that I didn't want more than 1/4 in the wine glass at any time. It worked out well for both of us.
[rofl.gif] [thumbs-up.gif]
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#27 Post by Paul McCourt » February 7th, 2019, 6:17 pm

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#28 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » February 7th, 2019, 6:23 pm

R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:53 pm
I'm with Michael on this. I prefer to pour on my own pace and I dont want someone interrupting my meal over it.

As far as a michelin reviewer, thats not my concern. Im not dining there to cater to their needs.
Attitudes like that are probably why I read not so infrequent posts about issues at restaurants while it is an extremely rare occurence for me.

If you don't want a qualified somm to do his job, stay home or go to a pizzeria.
I've witnessed somms basically murdering corks. I've seen somms who clearly have no clue how to handle an aged wine. I've heard too many stories of somms who take exceedingly generous sample "tastes." I'm not cool with any of that --- super duper kudos to you if you are down with that. High five. Way to go. I bow before ye obsequiously. Next time you take a crap, have one of your servants catch some and send it to me --- I could use something that smells like roses.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#29 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » February 7th, 2019, 6:25 pm

YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:56 pm
R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:53 pm
I'm with Michael on this. I prefer to pour on my own pace and I dont want someone interrupting my meal over it.

As far as a michelin reviewer, thats not my concern. Im not dining there to cater to their needs.
Attitudes like that are probably why I read not so infrequent posts about issues at restaurants while it is an extremely rare occurence for me.

If you don't want a qualified somm to do his job, stay home or go to a pizzeria.
Attitude like what? Do you really need a somm to pour your own glass? You must have a Somm at home. Lol
You come off so snobby.
Pizza and wine, yumm! Score!
You're a newer member, so I understand that you probably don't know I've previously caught slack for drinking Roumier and DRC with pizza. So you're barking up the wrong tree there.

I don't "need" a somm to pour my own glass. It's called etiquette at Michelin starred restaurants.

Your at home comment is ridiculous.

As far as "attitude like what", if you need to ask.....
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#30 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » February 7th, 2019, 6:30 pm

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 6:23 pm
R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:53 pm
I'm with Michael on this. I prefer to pour on my own pace and I dont want someone interrupting my meal over it.

As far as a michelin reviewer, thats not my concern. Im not dining there to cater to their needs.
Attitudes like that are probably why I read not so infrequent posts about issues at restaurants while it is an extremely rare occurence for me.

If you don't want a qualified somm to do his job, stay home or go to a pizzeria.
I've witnessed somms basically murdering corks. I've seen somms who clearly have no clue how to handle an aged wine. I've heard too many stories of somms who take exceedingly generous sample "tastes." I'm not cool with any of that --- super duper kudos to you if you are down with that. High five. Way to go. I bow before ye obsequiously. Next time you take a crap, have one of your servants catch some and send it to me --- I could use something that smells like roses.
Brian,

I'll ignore the majority of your asinine post, but tell me which Michelin starred restaurants whose somms have murdered your corks and taken exceedingly large tastes.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#31 Post by B Thorne » February 7th, 2019, 7:21 pm

Now this is getting exciting [popcorn.gif]
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#32 Post by YLee » February 7th, 2019, 7:32 pm

This guy thinks he's all that. Such a snob. Look guys I drink drc with pizza. Im so cool! What a dweeb.
Tough guy on the internet.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#33 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » February 7th, 2019, 7:49 pm

Ray when I read your post I knew you were referring to Michelin starred restaurants or equivalents. Not everyone has the luxury, for me it is at least a 200 mile drive. It’s sad that you don’t realize that, but I doubt you give a damn.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#34 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » February 7th, 2019, 7:58 pm

Tom G l a s g o w wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 7:49 pm
Ray when I read your post I knew you were referring to Michelin starred restaurants or equivalents. Not everyone has the luxury, for me it is at least a 200 mile drive. It’s sad that you don’t realize that, but I doubt you give a damn.
Tom,

Read the posts prior to mine. Once you do, you will realize I wasn't the one who brought up Michelin starred restaurants. But I'm sure you won't give a damn.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#35 Post by J O S H L O N G » February 7th, 2019, 8:15 pm

DRC with pizza- is that equivalent to the Sideways movie where he drinks cheval blanc at the burger joint?

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#36 Post by Tom Reddick » February 7th, 2019, 8:19 pm

R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 6:25 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:56 pm
R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm


Attitudes like that are probably why I read not so infrequent posts about issues at restaurants while it is an extremely rare occurence for me.

If you don't want a qualified somm to do his job, stay home or go to a pizzeria.
Attitude like what? Do you really need a somm to pour your own glass? You must have a Somm at home. Lol
You come off so snobby.
Pizza and wine, yumm! Score!
You're a newer member, so I understand that you probably don't know I've previously caught slack for drinking Roumier and DRC with pizza. So you're barking up the wrong tree there.

I don't "need" a somm to pour my own glass. It's called etiquette at Michelin starred restaurants.

Your at home comment is ridiculous.

As far as "attitude like what", if you need to ask.....
For almost 20 years, as I migrated from wine forum to wine forum, the story that dogged me most was a post on alt.food.wine about drinking Mouton with pizza in the fraternity house one night. Ray- you out-balled me after all this time, and I never even knew until tonight!

Back to the issue at hand- and in defense of Ray's comments- there is a big difference between service at a Michelin starred restaurant and everywhere else. Sommeliers and wine stewards in the former know how and when to pour because- as with everyone else on duty- they pay keen attention to the guests and their behaviors. To disrupt their service is, even if unintended, an insult to their skills and can send a bad message to other diners.

As for the OP's question- another vote here for, in your average restaurant, for thanking the server for pouring the wine out and discreetly saying that the table will handle pours going forward since everyone is going to have different things they want to drink etc. I have no problem saying this in most settings because, as the OP noted in his comment about bottles going down fast, the main reason waiters top up wine glasses frequently and indiscriminately is to sell more wine. They have this drilled into them by management just as a trained Sommelier at a Michelin restaurant knows to do nothing of the kind.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#37 Post by Jim Clary » February 7th, 2019, 8:24 pm

YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 7:32 pm
This guy thinks he's all that. Such a snob. Look guys I drink drc with pizza. Im so cool! What a dweeb.
Tough guy on the internet.
Yong - I think you are going down the wrong path here. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and dine with Ray several times. He is a gentleman, and one of the most generous individuals with his wines of any large collector that I have ever met. He is in no way a snob, or a mean-spirited tough guy on the internet.

This all seems like a simple case of the written word being taken out of context or meaning.

Back to the original point of the thread, I hate when a waiter fast pours. I’m guessing we have all experienced it at one point or another. I simply ask them to slow down the pours.
Jim Clary

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Jim Clary
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#38 Post by Jim Clary » February 7th, 2019, 8:27 pm

J O S H L O N G wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 8:15 pm
DRC with pizza- is that equivalent to the Sideways movie where he drinks cheval blanc at the burger joint?
I’m not a foodie, so I am most interested in drinking what I like with what I feel like eating. Pizza and a cult cab or first growth Bordeaux is a great combination to me. To each their own.

Now the thing that really bothered me about that scene was drinking it out of a styrofoam cup! Now that is sacrilege. 😀
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ky1em!ttskus
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#39 Post by ky1em!ttskus » February 7th, 2019, 8:33 pm

R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 6:25 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:56 pm
R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm


Attitudes like that are probably why I read not so infrequent posts about issues at restaurants while it is an extremely rare occurence for me.

If you don't want a qualified somm to do his job, stay home or go to a pizzeria.
Attitude like what? Do you really need a somm to pour your own glass? You must have a Somm at home. Lol
You come off so snobby.
Pizza and wine, yumm! Score!
You're a newer member, so I understand that you probably don't know I've previously caught slack for drinking Roumier and DRC with pizza. So you're barking up the wrong tree there.

I don't "need" a somm to pour my own glass. It's called etiquette at Michelin starred restaurants.

Your at home comment is ridiculous.

As far as "attitude like what", if you need to ask.....
R@y means "Welcome to the board!" [pwn.gif] [berserker.gif]

R@y, I'm stuck at why I should care who is sitting next to me and why it should affect my choices at all...

As an aside, totally unrelated, of course... just in case.... if I'm ever sitting next to you at a restaurant, say, I expect those around me to pay my bill. neener

I pour for myself, and usually my table, and make it clear as the wine is being opened. I also almost always offer to share.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#40 Post by Gary York » February 7th, 2019, 9:08 pm

Plenty of times where I tell the staff that I or my group will pour the wines. I have gone so far as to put the wine back in my bag to keep them off of it. Also to hold the temperature. I know what I want to drink and when. And I have had EMP screw up the wine service.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#41 Post by J.Vizuete » February 7th, 2019, 9:39 pm

Gary York wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 9:08 pm
And I have had EMP screw up the wine service.
Do tell - I thought their service and presentation was pretty special, only to be topped by Per Se/TFL in my own experience. What was the problem?
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#42 Post by Gary York » February 7th, 2019, 9:54 pm

We had different ideas on how the wine should be handled. It was some time ago. Pre-Humm ownership.
Last edited by Gary York on February 7th, 2019, 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#43 Post by Arv R » February 7th, 2019, 10:02 pm

J Murphy wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 2:17 pm
Hello

I wanted to see what others had to say about this topic.

12 of the extended family were out to dinner at a typical Italian restaurant. Most people weren't wine drinkers or knew much about wine. I ordered several bottles of "good" wine.

The waiter would stop by every 15 minutes or so and take the bottles and top off most people glasses, the bottles were dropping fast. It just so happened he was doing this to the people who have the least interest and knowledge about wine. They would have just been as happy drinking water. The seating configuration was several long tables end to end. He would leave the bottles pretty much as far away from where I was sitting (Murphys Law).

How does one handel this situation.

Tell the waiter kindly at the beginning of the meal to please not pour?

Or purchase some low end bottles of wine and leave them near the ones that could care less about wine?

I realize this is really two different topics/ questions.

Thanks
Waiters will do this with still/sparkling water too. We once had a group dinner where the waiter poured water aggressively enough that we had a $185 charge for some silly number of bottles. Whoever organized the dinner called the manager over and they ended up removing either most or all of that charge. It's something I'd expect more in tourist / non repeat customer areas, not so much in higher end (but not starred) restaurants.

I think everyone is happier if patrons are clear and upfront about what they need...and don't.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#44 Post by Craig G » February 7th, 2019, 10:03 pm

Jim Clary wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 8:27 pm
J O S H L O N G wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 8:15 pm
DRC with pizza- is that equivalent to the Sideways movie where he drinks cheval blanc at the burger joint?
I’m not a foodie, so I am most interested in drinking what I like with what I feel like eating. Pizza and a cult cab or first growth Bordeaux is a great combination to me. To each their own.

Now the thing that really bothered me about that scene was drinking it out of a styrofoam cup! Now that is sacrilege. 😀
Ha, me too. I have no problem drinking great wine with pizza or burgers, but I want a decent glass.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#45 Post by GregT » February 8th, 2019, 12:37 am

I think a lot of it has to do with expectations. "A qualified somm" has different meanings to different people. There is an idea that the customer is never supposed to touch the bottle, it's the somm's role to fill the glass. In the same way, some aristocrats need their valet to put toothpaste on the toothbrush.

But most Americans don't live like that. So whether someone is qualified or not, that doesn't mean he or she has to fill my glass, chew my food, cut my steak, etc. Frankly, I don't care at all about someone's qualifications, I care whether they take care of me.

I pretty much always tell the waiter/somm/whatever that I'd prefer to fill my own glass. Everyone has their preference as to how much they'll drink and whether the restaurant has a policy or not, for most people it's not the role of the server to tell the customer how much and when the customer is supposed to drink or eat.

Whatever the practice was in days of yore, today if some waiter or somm thinks he is supposed to make sure my glass is full, whether or not I want any more wine, he's not doing his job. And I don't want to have to go through some special signaling routine to let him know that. I want to give my order and be left alone. Assistance that is not asked for is annoyance.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#46 Post by Nowell Karten » February 8th, 2019, 1:59 am

J.Vizuete wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 9:39 pm
Gary York wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 9:08 pm
And I have had EMP screw up the wine service.
Do tell - I thought their service and presentation was pretty special, only to be topped by Per Se/TFL in my own experience. What was the problem?
One night at EMP, I had wine aggressively fast-poured. This got the host of our party-of-three to order a second bottle, which seemed the somm's intent all along. As a guest of a then-client, I chose not to comment, but I obviously noticed and haven't forgotten.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#47 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » February 8th, 2019, 2:39 am

How is saying you prefer to pour your own wine when you choose insulting their skills?
Tom Reddick wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 8:19 pm
R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 6:25 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:56 pm


Attitude like what? Do you really need a somm to pour your own glass? You must have a Somm at home. Lol
You come off so snobby.
Pizza and wine, yumm! Score!
You're a newer member, so I understand that you probably don't know I've previously caught slack for drinking Roumier and DRC with pizza. So you're barking up the wrong tree there.

I don't "need" a somm to pour my own glass. It's called etiquette at Michelin starred restaurants.

Your at home comment is ridiculous.

As far as "attitude like what", if you need to ask.....
For almost 20 years, as I migrated from wine forum to wine forum, the story that dogged me most was a post on alt.food.wine about drinking Mouton with pizza in the fraternity house one night. Ray- you out-balled me after all this time, and I never even knew until tonight!

Back to the issue at hand- and in defense of Ray's comments- there is a big difference between service at a Michelin starred restaurant and everywhere else. Sommeliers and wine stewards in the former know how and when to pour because- as with everyone else on duty- they pay keen attention to the guests and their behaviors. To disrupt their service is, even if unintended, an insult to their skills and can send a bad message to other diners.

As for the OP's question- another vote here for, in your average restaurant, for thanking the server for pouring the wine out and discreetly saying that the table will handle pours going forward since everyone is going to have different things they want to drink etc. I have no problem saying this in most settings because, as the OP noted in his comment about bottles going down fast, the main reason waiters top up wine glasses frequently and indiscriminately is to sell more wine. They have this drilled into them by management just as a trained Sommelier at a Michelin restaurant knows to do nothing of the kind.

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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#48 Post by Gerhard P. » February 8th, 2019, 2:54 am

Robert M yers wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 2:23 pm
We typically let the waiter pour the first glass and then tell him/her politely that we will be happy to handle it from there on out. Never had a problem after that.
Exactly THIS! Should work fine.
R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:28 pm
....

What if a Michelin reviewer is sitting two tables away from you and sees you (repeatedly) pouring your own wine? Will he think that is what you requested or that the restaurant's wine service is subpar?
...
Sorry, but that cannot be my problem ... a Michelin reviewer should be so intelligent to recognize why on one single table the guest pours himself, and on all other tables the waiter does ...

If the restaurant is really that noble with strict etiquettes that pouring on your own seems impossible I would instruct the somm well in advance about some details ... always worked.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#49 Post by Victor Hong » February 8th, 2019, 3:22 am

Back during the heydays of Liar's Poker and Bonfire of the Vanities, I was a business-dinner guest at Ben Benson's, an expense-account steak and lobster joint. My entree was steamed large lobster, which I began to crack proficiently. The waiter rushed over to insist on doing so for me, so that we could dine faster.

I handed to him my entire platter, and suggested that the chef just pulverize the lobster in a Veg-A-Matic and then serve it to me with a tall sundae glass and straw, for quick drinking.

Within 45 minutes, we had been served and rushed out the door, minus $225 for two persons.....a large sum in 1986. My host promised never to take any of his clients there again.
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Re: Restaurant - Waiter pouring etiquette

#50 Post by Kirk.Grant » February 8th, 2019, 3:48 am

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 6:23 pm
R@y.Tupp@+sch wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 5:45 pm
YLee wrote:
February 7th, 2019, 4:53 pm
I'm with Michael on this. I prefer to pour on my own pace and I dont want someone interrupting my meal over it.

As far as a michelin reviewer, thats not my concern. Im not dining there to cater to their needs.
Attitudes like that are probably why I read not so infrequent posts about issues at restaurants while it is an extremely rare occurence for me.

If you don't want a qualified somm to do his job, stay home or go to a pizzeria.
I've witnessed somms basically murdering corks. I've seen somms who clearly have no clue how to handle an aged wine. I've heard too many stories of somms who take exceedingly generous sample "tastes." I'm not cool with any of that --- super duper kudos to you if you are down with that. High five. Way to go. I bow before ye obsequiously. Next time you take a crap, have one of your servants catch some and send it to me --- I could use something that smells like roses.
Brian,

This reminds me of a time when I was the wine director at Havana in Bar Harbor. The owner left the choice at the start of the job up to me if we were going to be a restaurant that tasted the wines before serving them to people (he may have changed his policy in the last 10+ years since I've been there), but at the time he left the choice up to the Wine Director. Without fail 95% of the guests would ask me if I wanted to taste the wines they were bringing in and I graciously accepted whenever this was offered; if it was a $15 Fair Play Zin or Rene Engel from the 80's. What it meant was of what I hope it conveyed, was that we assumed the customer was always the expert. If someone called me over to ask me, "Does this taste right to you?" whether the wine was flawed or not 99% of the time I'd ask what they usually liked in a wine and take the wine away they didn't like to return with a different offering. This seemed to lead to repeat visits and in the summer I worked there we increased our wine sales by 218% of the previous year.

In the summer of 2007, the only table I regret was a couple that came in, ordered a 1999 Sassicaia and had their meal. At the end of the meal the man called me over and asked me to take a photo of them for their 5th anniversary. After taking the photo he said that they went to Sassicaia for their honeymoon and tasted the 1999 at the winery. He thought I should share the remaining bottle with the wait staff so they could get to experience this really special wine. I thanked him for the gracious offer and think I comped him 10% off the pice as they only drank 50-60% of the wine. At the end of the night when I poured out the bottle into the first glass to taste the wine it reeked of TCA; so do they think the wine is supposed to taste like like TCA? To this date I've never had a bottle of the 1999 Sassicaia that wasn't corked.
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