How to Run a Proper Wine Service

What is Wine Service?

The ritual of serving an entire bottle of wine is called a Wine Service. The full service is not necessary if a guest only orders one glass of wine. The bartender will pour the wine for the server. The server is responsible for serving wine by the bottle at the table.

Wine Service

Learn how to serve wine professionally by watching our video. Hold the bottle up in the air when you open it for the best wine etiquette.

How to Serve Wine

Here’s a guide that will help you serve wine. Use the five wine service steps listed below to offer your guests their favorite bottles.

The Wine List

Not every restaurant needs to serve dozens of wines or hire an in-house sommelier to be successful at selling wine. As long as you create a balanced wine list with a range of price points, you can make it work for you. For instance, if you own a casual eatery with a busy lunchtime crowd, a smaller wine list is appropriate. If you offer full dinner service, your guests may expect a more diverse wine list. Check out our wine list guide to learn more about creating the perfect list of wines.

Follow these steps when all guests have been seated to present the wine menu:

  • Give each guest a list of wines – Present each wine list from the right. Never put a wine menu on the table. Give each guest a list when they’re comfortably seated.
  • Answer guests’ questions. Be ready to answer questions about food and wine pairings, wine quality, or vintages.
  • Take an order– Once the table has selected a wine, repeat the order for confirmation.
  • Wines By The Glass – Orders are sent to the bar for individual glasses. Deliver the glass of wine to the table after the bartender has poured the wine. The full wine service is not required for single glasses.
  • Wine Bottles: Depending on how your restaurant stores wine, the manager may have to unlock the cabinet to retrieve full wine bottles.

Preparation of Wine Glasses

You’ll have to select the appropriate glassware after the table has chosen a bottle of wine. Wine glasses are made to complement the wine that you’re serving. Check out our guide to buying wine glasses for more information. While the guests are looking at their menus, retrieve the glasses and get them ready for service.

  • Choose the wine glassware– Select wine glasses that match the type of wine you are drinking, whether it is red, white, or sparkling.
  • Inspect your glassware. Make sure that each wine glass does not have any chips, stains, or other blemishes.
  • Polish your glassware– Give the wine glasses one final polish using a clean cloth. Be sure not to leave fingerprints on the bowl. Wearing gloves will help.
  • Place glassware on a tray– After the glassware has been cleaned and polished, place it on the tray by holding the stem.
  • Delivering the wine glasses– Place the glass on the right side of each guest. Be careful not to touch anything but the stem. Each guest should receive the same wine glass. If the guest refuses to accept the wine glass, take it away discreetly.

Wine Serving Temperature

Each type of wine should only be served at the right Temperature. Wine refrigerators allow you to regulate the Temperature of the wine to a degree. You may have to adjust your wine temperature after guests order bottles if you don’t use temperature control. Your guests may have different preferences for wine temperature. Follow this general guideline for wine temperature:

  • Red wine Temperature: Serve red wine at just below room temperature, between 62 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider chilling your red wine if it is stored in a place without temperature control.
  • White wine temperature– Serve white wines and roses chilled between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sparkling wine temperature – Store sparkling wine at 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve it chilled between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you serve guests a bottle, it is important to cool the wine down immediately.

Open Wine Bottle

Opening a wine bottle at the table can be intimidating if you aren’t familiar with using a wine key. All eyes are on you, and if you struggle with the foil or the cork, it takes away from the guest experience. One of the best ways to improve your wine service is to make sure all servers can handle a wine key with confidence.

What is a wine key?

A wine key is a corkscrew, which is easy to use. It can be stored in the server’s pocket. Some wine keys come with an integrated foil cutter. Place the lever on the bottle lip to create leverage.

How to Open a Bottle of Wine

Always open the wine bottle by holding it in the air. Never place the bottle on a surface. Uncork a bottle of wine using a wine key by following these steps:

  1. Present the bottle of wine to the guest who ordered it before using the wine key. Hold the bottle up so that the label is clearly visible, and announce the grape, location, and vintage. Uncover the wine once the guest confirms the bottle.
  2. Use a wine key or a small knife from a server’s style to cut the foil about half an inch away from the lip. The wine will not touch the foil, and dripping can be prevented.
  3. Open the wine key so that the lever and corkscrew are both pointing towards the cork.
  4. Insert the worm or corkscrew into the middle of the cork. Then, twist.
  5. Continue to twist the corkscrew until the first notch of the lever touches the lip of the bottle.
  6. Pull the corkscrew upwards while pressing the lever against the bottle lip. The lever created will allow the cork to be pulled out about halfway.
  7. The second notch of the lever should now be aligned with the edge of the bottle.
  8. Pull the cork out all the way using the leverage provided by the second notch. The pin will easily pull away from the bottle if the gap has been placed.
  9. The cork and top of the bottle should be cleaned. This will help remove dust and cork debris from the storage area.
  10. If the guest wants to verify that the cork and the bottle are identical, you can show them the pin.
  11. Pour a small amount of wine and ask the guest to approve it before pouring the rest for the table.
  12. How to Pour Wine

When the wine bottle is open, and the host has approved, it’s time to start pouring for the table. Follow these steps to provide a seamless wine pour:

  1. Be sure to count the number of guests before you pour. A 750ml bottle will yield approximately five pours. The pour amount should be adjusted based on how many guests will be attending. Never fill the glass above halfway.
  2. Use white gloves or a white napkin to wrap the bottle. This will help to maintain the Temperature of chilled wines.
  3. Tradition dictates that the oldest woman is served first. The server pours for men after serving all the women in a clockwise fashion. Some people find it outdated. A more modern alternative is to run the wine clockwise, starting with the person on the left side of the host. The guest who ordered wine will always be served last, regardless of gender.
  4. Pour from the right side of the guest. Pour each time with a twisting movement and wipe the bottle’s lip to prevent dripping.
  5. Ask permission to remove corks from the table. Place the bottle on the right side of the host, with the label facing outwards.
  6. Ask guests whether they want a bucket of water ice on the table or if the wine bottle should be kept in a wine cooler.
  7. Refill wine glasses periodically at the table. Ask the table to order another bottle of wine when the bottle is finished.


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