The 6 Simple Steps of Wine Service

Proper wine service can be intimidating if you are unsure of the steps, and in many cases, the process has been overblown and overcomplicated.  There is no reason for these MIT level instructions regarding something that should be so simple.  And so, the Wine For Sophisticated Homies have broken down the process of opening wine into 6 Easy Steps.  You’re welcome world.

Step 1:  Present the label to the Guest, framed in a serviette. 

Step 2:  Keeping the label facing the guest, cut around the foil just under the first tier, removing it from the bottle and disposing of it discretely into a pocket.

Step 3:  Undo the auger from its home base and twist into corkscrew 5 to 6 times.  If the closure is Stelvin, this will involve a stronger push, but after breaking through the metal, zero twists. 

Step 4:  Using the human body as a fulcrum, slowly pull the cork from the bottle while keeping it in an upright position (the bottle and your body).  If the cork resists or seems brittle…slow down, take it easy, grin assuredly at your table, creating a sense of safety and security, even if you are dealing with an incredibly stubborn cork.  Assuage them with innocuous conversation about the menu or the weather.   

Step 5:  Once extracted, place the cork in front of the guest that has ordered the wine and allow them to smell.  This is very important, as nothing will tell you more about the wine than the smell of a musty cork.  It is also very important that, just as the last centimeter of the cork is about to come out of the bottle, you slow down and ease it out very gently, just as you would ease out a newborn baby that was similarly stuck in a wine bottle.   They say that the noise created by the cork leaving the neck should sound like a nun’s fart.  But, don’t feel too bad about this in the end.  Remember, there are lots of nuns in the world, and some of them are bound to have very loud gas. 

Step 6:  Using your serviette, wipe the lip of the bottle to ensure that any untoward gunk and/or dirt is eliminated before the wine is poured.

Step 6A:  Holding your serviette in one hand, pour a taste

for the host and immediately wipe the lip to avoid any drippage. 

Step 6Aa:  Frame the bottle of the wine with your        serviette, label facing the host, as they temporarily forget or maybe didn’t even know in the first place, that they were supposed to taste the wine to make sure that they liked it. 

Step 6Ab:  Make subtle eye contact at the table with someone who understands why you’re standing there like an idiot waiting for them to realize what the hell is going on.  Smile coyly, and if they don’t interrupt the host, wait a couple seconds longer before asking if perhaps they’d like to taste the wine to ensure that it is to their liking. 

Step 6B:  After the host has violently swirled the wine twelve to fourteen times, held the glass up to squint at the color, and followed that up finally by the tasting approval, proceed to pouring in listed order: ladies first, oldest to youngest, clockwise, and then finally finishing with the host.   

Step 6B Addendum:  If the table has anyone questioning their gender identity, or, a conjoined, opposite-sex twins, take careful consideration into the order of pouring.  For gender identity, please ask the table to state their preferred sex.  If anyone says “Yes please” proceed to high-five them.  For conjoined twins, pour for the lady twin first, followed by the gentlemen.  If they share a mouth, pour into the more feminine side of the mouth. 

Step 6B Addendum A:  If anyone at the table is   suffering from Benjamin Button’s disease, or if the entire table is a support group of people suffering from the Disease, pour the wine youngest to oldest, in a counterclockwise manner. 

Step 6B Addendum B:  If it is impossible to walk around the table in a clockwise manner due to an impediment such as a wall, or a booth, or your own revolutionary ideas on the relativity of time, or perhaps, most ironically, a large clock, then adhere to the remaining rules.  If a wall is in the way, do not attempt to walk through the wall in order to maintain the clockwise instructions.  This can be dangerous for both your own health, and the structural foundation of the restaurant. 

Step 6C:  After the wine has been poured, sigh frustratingly as you suddenly realize that you didn’t even offer to decant the wine.  Ignore the sweat that is beading on your head as you reach around the corner to grab the decanter you had stationed there earlier.  The guests will look at you perplexed as you do this.  “Have any of you ever heard of Backwards Decanting?” You’ll say.  When they tell you they haven’t, choose a European country that they won’t know much about.  “In Luxembourg, revolutionary sommeliers are decanting their wine by pouring it into glasses, then pouring that wine back into the decanter, then pouring that wine back into the glasses.  They call this method, the Luxembourg Switch.”  Tell them all of this while performing great flourishes of hand motion and elegant airborne serviette maneuvers. 

Step 6CA:  Replace host’s glass with fresh glass before

performing Luxembourg Switch so as to avoid mixing

saliva/germs with rest of wine.  Unless they’re still not

listening to you, in which case, psssshhhhhhhh, whatevs.

Step 6D:  Ask the table if they would like the wine to be poured, or for it to breath on step 2 of the 3-step Luxembourg Switch decantation process.  If the answer is positive to the latter, then ignore the former and pour left to right, female to male, age before beauty.  If beauty and age collide in the female form, pour for the most beautiful old woman sitting at the table. 

Step 6DA:  If you work at an overly-progressive  restaurant that recognizes the daily struggles and rights of men, then you can pour for the men first, in this case, pour for the oldest man at the table. 

Step 6D Addendum:  If you have two, older men

who you are having trouble differentiating the ages

of, pour for the Silver Fox first.  To be clear, a ‘Silver

Fox’ is an attractive older man…think John Slattery

in Mad Men.  If neither of the men are attractive, decide which one you would rather have as a grandfather and pour for them first.  If both men seem like good grandfather material, then I think we’ve determined that the real problem here is your own inability to make a decision and stick with it.  GOOD LORD

Step 6D Addendum A:  If the table has an ACTUAL silver fox waiting to be served wine,

and if that silver fox is not only a melanistic

form of a red fox, but an anthropomorphic woodland creature that has gained the ability of speech and is dining in your restaurant, serve the silver fox first, and then, look around the room for the presence of a nearby magical wardrobe, which, we must assume based on the facts presented, may contain a portal to Narnia. 

Step 6D Addendum A1:  Burn the

wardrobe.  Nothing good can come from talking animals, we need to learn how to be better ourselves before we start a gateway of interspecies relations that will inherently change the very fabric of the way we live our lives.  Let’s work on the human condition first. 

Step 6E:  After the wine has been poured, place the bottle in front of the guest and ask if they would like to keep the cork.  If the guest says no, and asks why would they need a cork?  Let them know the truth.  That while you were going on and on about that clearly made-up Luxembourg Switch, what you were actually doing was placing an undetectable Amazonian Tree Frog Poison into each of their glasses that can only be activated by a Triple Decant. 

Step 6EA:  Now that you have their attention, peal back the incredibly realistic skin mask you’ve been wearing since the beginning of the encounter.  Wait, a second, you’re not a sommelier at all!  You’re Doctor Cobra Kensington Chaos, the most infamous sommelier in the world!  Once a promising MS candidate, you were kicked out of the guild when they discovered you were using a previously undiscovered Sixth Sense gained from an accident while working a summer internship at a Two Buck Chuck Toxic Waste facility, which the court, after months of deliberation, decided was an unfair advantage in the blind-tasting process, and thusly banned you from the wine world, stripping you of all known sommelier certifications.  At first, you were despondent, but then you realized you would turn your sadness into a lifelong quest for revenge against those who spurned you.   You didn’t want this, but society turned you into the evil they now fear. 

Step 6EAa:  And who just so happens to be sitting at this very table?  The Swiss banker controlling the accounts of some of the most well known MS and MW’s in the world. 

What a devious plan!?!?!?   You hand them a burner phone.  They must call and transfer their money to an offshore account in the Cayman Islands if they want the cork back, which contains a rare Quercus Suber antidote to the poison.  “The cork for the bank transfer”, you tell them as you stroke your silver fox— your most devious of henchman as it turns out (the animal, not the attractive older gentleman).    

Step 6EAb:  You read off the numbers as the nervous banker transfers the money over into your desired account, everyone at the table looking around nervously as they imagine the poison slowly moving through their blood stream, every second so important. 

Step 6F:  Now pull off the realistic mask of Doctor Cobra Kensington Chaos to reveal that, actually, you really were just that same sommelier all along…wearing TWO different masks.  The money they just transferred?  That went directly into an account the restaurant keeps for wine sales.  Congratulations, you have just pulled off something we in the wine industry refer to as ‘The Long Con’.  The owners will be very happy that you doubled your projected numbers for the month, and all it took was some diligent sales expertise, and creative outside-the-box thinking.  The synergy here is really thriving.   

Step 6FA:  Let the table know that it was a humorous ruse and that there never was any poison, and then bring a round of Fernet shots on the house.  And then say something like: “Man—what a crazy moment that was huh?  Well, enjoy your Lafite!”  They’ll all laugh heartily before fading into an uncomfortable silence with the realization that the real Dr. Cobra Kensington Chaos is still out there somewhere, scheming their downfall.  Life, in all its fragility, seems so fleeting in this moment.

Step 6G:  Slowly back away from the table, always keeping your chest to the host, and then, in a puff of smoke, dissolve away into thin air, leaving them to marvel at the mystery and wonder of the wine world—a kaleidoscope of the unknown that awaits the weary traveler inside of every bottle.