Sommelier Sample and Pouring Order

A small quantity (1-1.5 oz)  is poured into the glass of the host or hostess, with the right hand and from the right-hand side of the customer, ensuring that the label is in full view for the entire pour. Again, left hand and left side if not practical. When the sufficient amount has been poured , the neck should be tilted upwards and a small twist given to the bottle, this should cause any drips to be spread around the glass ring of the bottle instead of dripping onto the table. The neck should then be wiped with the clean cloth behind the host or at least off of the surface of the table (All subsequent pours should be done in this manner). When the host has accepted the wine, the other guests on the table should be served, when able, in a clockwise direction around the table, and finally topping up the host’s glass. When pouring wine from a bottle, it should be held so that the label is facing and open to the customer. The wine should be poured gently into the glass, ideally you should maintain airflow through the neck of the bottle to prevent surging.

When pouring from a decanter, it is acceptable to wipe the mouth of the decanter directly after pouring while over the table. Some decanters are difficult to twist. Good decanters often have a sharp beveled edge which can reduce the drip often seen in a bottle.

If the bottle is deemed faulty or unacceptable by the host, the cork, bottle and tasting glass are all removed from the table.

Some traditions suggest moving clockwise about the table serving eldest female to youngest female and then oldest male to youngest male. This format can result in a ludicrous lapping of the table and unless the table setup permits this process with a single (counter clockwise) backtracking it should not be attempted.

Your job when pouring wine is to make the entire bottle last for all the guests at the table with at least a single serving remaining in the bottle. Yes, this can mean a 2 oz pour each for a ten top. In the case of tables of 4 or smaller, do not fill the glasses beyond a sensible serving amount. Wines ordered by course are often poured in small amounts in this fashion. Do not assume another bottle will be ordered unless you are told so.

If multiple (different) wines are ordered at the same time, each guest receives a glass for every wine (unless they decline) and each wine is served to this point before another is presented and opened for the host again. The cork should be removed after the wine is served to all the guests and prior to the next bottle being presented and opened.

If two or more bottles of the same wine are ordered at the initial order, you will pour the first wine to a level that again will leave the last bottle with at least a serving left in the bottle. Aim to not have any guest have wine from two bottles in their glass. The pouring  process stops while the host is presented and tastes the next bottle in a clean glass placed to the right of the previous glass.

If a second bottle of the same wine is ordered after the first bottle has been poured, the host is presented and tastes this bottle prior to it being poured for guests. It is permitted to mix the first and second bottles for guests in this scenario.

Formal Service requires the plate and the cork to be removed and a clean cork plate to be provided prior to presenting the next wine. Wine plate should also be set down at this time to the right of the first plate.

Casual Service the cork should be removed and pocketed prior to beginning the next service.

An unfinished bottle not needing chilling may be wrapped in the napkin and placed to the right of the host above the wine glass. Chilled bottles may be placed back into a bucket with stand or cooler for white wine ideally located to the right of the host. Ensure that the bottle or cooler/ice bucket is in a safe position and not likely to be knocked over.

The sommelier should keep an eye on the customers’ glasses and refill as and when necessary moving clockwise as before. If the host is in need of replenishment, make sure there is wine in the bottle to accomplish this although serve the host last. Do not pour with the intention to empty the bottle, keep the bottle in play with small pours as long as possible. When the serving size is less than half an ounce to the host and its impractical to pour additional servings, you may ask if the host would like an additional bottle. It should feel like you stretched the bottle rather than poured servings that will pressure the host into another bottle.

Formal Service Guests should receive fresh glasses to the right of their current glasses with a reorder of the same wine. Empty glasses may be removed after pouring the new serving.

Casual Service A second bottle of the same wine may be mixed in the same glass for guests, but not for the host.