There is a fine art to a perfectly opened and poured bottle of wine and something that is recognised and appreciated by wine lovers and wine drinkers the world over.
We’ve listed below our Sommelier’s 5 top tips for you to hone your skills; 1. Present the bottle of wine to your guests
Before opening the bottle briefly present the main information about the wine, such as the name of the winery, the position from which wine comes and the year of the harvest. This information is of course all available on the bottle.
You should serve from the right of the guest, the opposite to food which is served from the left. Whilst serving from the right be sure to the turn label inward towards the guest to make it visible. A Sommelier will always do this to show that the correct bottle is being served. 2. Removing the capsule
The capsule should be cut at the lower lip of the bottleneck, at the front and back without moving or shaking the bottle itself. Remember that the label should always be facing the guest whilst doing this. After removing the capsule top, put it in your pocket and be aware that during wine presentation, nothing should touch the table, not even the bottle. The next step is cleaning the upper part of the bottle for the first time with the napkin to remove any dust.
3. Love your corkscrew A good corkscrew is your best friend and the most popular wine bottle opener by far is the waiter’s friend. Any good corkscrew with come with a blade, two-notch lever, and a screw. Once you’ve removed the capsule, insert the screw straight into the middle of the cap, with the metal pivot pointing to the left. Twist the corkscrew clockwise about 5 turns with the bottle held in place - DO NOT TWIST THE BOTTLE AROUND THE CORKSCREW!
Once turned 5 rotations or until a single spiral loop shows at the top rest the levers first notch on the lip of the bottle and hold the lever flat against the bottle so it doesn’t slide and gently lift the end of the corkscrew. Then use the second notch at the end of the lever to ease the cork out of the bottle. 4. Easy does it
When removing the cork be sure to do it smoothly and delicately to avoid a noise as it is removed. Once the cork is extracted, smell it and put it on the plate. This is done so that the guest can examine the cork, to make sure it’s wet on the side that was in the bottle and dry on the outer end. After that clean the inner neck of the bottle from any residue and take the first taste.
5. Pour away
Yes, you did read the last line correctly - take the first taste! A Sommelier is always the first to taste the wine so pour yourself a small amount of wine in a glass to check the smell and quality of the wine. If the wine is corked you would want to know that first, before pouring the wine to your guest’s wine glasses.
If you don’t feel comfortable with this then offer the first taste to the person who ordered the wine.
When pouring the wine, be sure to hold the bottle by its base with your thumb in the indentation or the punt. This allows the label to be shown whilst pouring. Not all bottles have a punt but you can always hold by the base to show the label. This is a technique which may take some practice in controlling the pour, so grab yourself an empty bottle and fill it with water and practice away! You don’t want to be spilling when serving!
As you pour or after you can discuss the aromas and flavours of the wine with your guests - again all of this information is on the bottle if you are not familiar. You can also share your experiences with this particular wine you are serving.
All of these discussions are a great means of interaction with your guests as even the shyest people who are afraid to talk about wines are likely to engage into a wine conversation after you present and serve the wine like a professional.
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