tasting wine at the table, how to approve or to send it back

Tasting Wine At The Table: 9 Rules For Approving Or Sending Back

who this class is for

Restaurant guests, waiters and restaurant staff

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About this micro-class

Tasting and approving wine is not just a formality but an integral part of the dining experience. It is meant to ensure that the wine selected enhances your overall enjoyment of the meal.

Etiquette Rules for Tasting Wine at the Table

1. The Opening Ritual

As the waiter presents the bottle, observe the label to ensure it matches the wine you ordered.

Confirm that the cork is clean and free from mold or unusual odors.

2. The Visual Examination

The waiter will pour a small amount into your glass.

Hold the glass at the base. Gently swirl the wine to release its aromas.

Take a moment to appreciate the color and viscosity, ensuring it aligns with your expectations.

Assess the clarity, intensity, and hues, noting that red wines tend to reveal more about their age through color than whites.

3. The Aroma Appreciation

Give the glass a few more swirls to release the wine’s bouquet.

Bring the glass to your nose and inhale deeply.

Identify primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas. Primary aromas come from the grape variety, secondary from fermentation, and tertiary from aging.

4. Sip and Savor

Take a small sip and let it coat your palate. Note the initial flavors, the development as it lingers, and the finish.

Pay attention to the balance between acidity, sweetness, tannins (for reds), and alcohol.

5. Approving or Sending Back

If the wine meets your expectations, nod to signal approval. The waiter will then proceed to pour for your guests.

If the wine appears faulty, politely and discreetly mention your concerns. Common issues include a musty or vinegar-like smell (cork taint) or an oxidized flavor.

Express your concerns diplomatically, such as “I believe there might be an issue with the wine; it seems to have a distinct odor of cork taint.”

6. Sending Back Gracefully

Wait for the waiter’s acknowledgment before sending the wine back. They may offer to bring a new bottle or suggest an alternative.

Avoid making a fuss; a subtle and respectful approach is key. The goal is to ensure you enjoy the wine you ordered.

7. Time Frame

The entire process, from the presentation of the bottle to the approval or potential replacement, should ideally take no more than a few minutes. However, it’s more important to focus on your comfort and satisfaction than rushing the experience.

8. Once the Wine is Approved

Once the wine is approved, the waiter will continue pouring for your guests. Express your gratitude, and enjoy the rest of the evening.

You can share your thoughts on the wine but do so diplomatically. Everyone’s palate is unique, and there are no right or wrong opinions.

9. Spitting

In professional tastings, it is common to spit out the wine after tasting, especially when sampling multiple wines.

However, it is not polite to do so at the dining table.

Test your knowledge with a quick test and earn a free micro-certificate

Shop for etiquette, behavioral, and contextual signs

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