WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

Poll: The moment when the waiter pours a sample of the wine you ordered _____
  • 13.9% - Is a necessary part of the restaurant dining experience. 112
  • 3.1% - Makes me look knowledgeable. 25
  • 6.9% - Makes me look like an idiot. 56
  • 38.2% - Is a waste of time. Just hand it over already so I can start drinkin’! 308
  • 36.2% - Is a combination of the above. 292
  • 1.7% - Other (comments as well) 14
807 votes

Well, how do you fare compared to the Zeitgeist? Chat up your fellow wooters and let us know how lame this poll was or what obvious choices we missed. For example: Was this poll a) STUPID, b) DUMB, c) POINTLESS or d) ALL OF THE ABOVE?

curtisuxor


quality posts: 56 Private Messages curtisuxor

One of these days, I want to sample a wine and respond, "How dare you!", and leave in a huff.

mdkopper


quality posts: 0 Private Messages mdkopper

The moment when the waiter pours a sample of the wine you ordered _____

Makes wish I'd got'n a beer...





.

lusluckylad


quality posts: 0 Private Messages lusluckylad

The sample is fine just in case they happened upon a bad bottle. It's presenting the cork thing that gets me. What the heck am I supposed to do with that? They do come in handy as gentle airborne reminders that you should stop talking on your cell phone during dinner, so I suppose they have a purpose.

moondigger


quality posts: 11 Private Messages moondigger
lusluckylad wrote:It's presenting the cork thing that gets me. What the heck am I supposed to do with that?


Look at it to confirm it's the right cork for the bottle you ordered, if you're so inclined. (The idea, as it was explained to me, is that they're showing you it's not a lesser/cheaper wine that's been put in a better bottle and re-corked.) Otherwise just set it down on the table.

There's a good chance they're watching to see if you sniff the cork, which is funny/pointless. If you want to know what the wine smells like, smell the wine, not the cork.

kylemittskus


quality posts: 229 Private Messages kylemittskus

What moondigger said. The cork is really only a concern with higher end bottles that may be counterfeit.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

SumDuud


quality posts: 21 Private Messages SumDuud

When I was a server and had to do the wine presentation, it was explained by some "wine expert" that some people would smell the cork because it will give a different more distinct odor than smelling the wine glass, but some would examine to cork, I guess checking for authenticity. Most people that tasted the wine didn't really know what they were tasting it for. Another place I worked, had a higher end guest list and that was mroe evenly split amongst those who knew good wine and those who had no idea. Some people were just honest and would say 'What do I need to taste it for?' or 'I wouldn't know what I was supposed to get with a taste.' and occassionally I'd get someone telling me they would pour a real size glass, since they got the whole bottle. You get all kinds I suppose.

Let's see the quality impulse buys!
Wooter to blame for sellout: SumDuud
Sellout time: 8:11:25 AM Central Time

gjbloom


quality posts: 6 Private Messages gjbloom
lusluckylad wrote:It's presenting the cork thing that gets me. What the heck am I supposed to do with that?



I believe that by sniffing the cork, a trained nose can detect the distinctive wet-dog scent of a brettanomyces infection, and thus spare you the disgust of actually sipping a brettanomyces infected wine. So sniff the cork. If you detect ole Sparky coming in from a rain storm, make a just-sniffed-a-fart face as you gently toss the cork away from you, then gaze reproachfully at your sommelier and request a different bottle.

kylemittskus


quality posts: 229 Private Messages kylemittskus
gjbloom wrote:I believe that by sniffing the cork, a trained nose can detect the distinctive wet-dog scent of a brettanomyces infection, and thus spare you the disgust of actually sipping a brettanomyces infected wine. So sniff the cork. If you detect ole Sparky coming in from a rain storm, make a just-sniffed-a-fart face as you gently toss the cork away from you, then gaze reproachfully at your sommelier and request a different bottle.



That is untrue and it also makes no sense. The cork is given to you to confirm the wine, and more importantly, the correct vintage correlation between the bottle ordered, the label, and the cork stamp.

The first pour of about an ounce is for smelling, not tasting. You should be able to detect cork taint immediately. Your ability to detect cork taint is the most acute during your first smell.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

chemvictim


quality posts: 3 Private Messages chemvictim
moondigger wrote:
There's a good chance they're watching to see if you sniff the cork, which is funny/pointless. If you want to know what the wine smells like, smell the wine, not the cork.



I hate it when I feel like they're watching for something. It's like they're waiting for me to do something, but what? It feels very awkward.

moondigger


quality posts: 11 Private Messages moondigger
chemvictim wrote:I hate it when I feel like they're watching for something. It's like they're waiting for me to do something, but what? It feels very awkward.


I think this is part of the reason why some people either avoid wine or feel intimidated about it. People with a newly found interest in wine may not really know much about it yet, and fear they will be mocked or will unwittingly do something embarrassing. When I first got interested in wine (~15 years ago or so), I felt the same way. Even my budding interest in wine was enough for family and friends to consider me the "expert," which I suppose I was in comparison. So I did as much reading as I could, and asked lots of questions early on, figuring it was better to learn than remain in the dark.

An acquaintance of mine worked as a waiter in an upscale restaurant at the time, and I asked him quite a few questions, including the one about the cork. He was the one who told me the purpose of presenting the cork, and that the waiters would make a mental note of what diners did with it. They thought it particularly funny when a diner would accept the cork, sniff it deeply and then declare the wine "good stuff" based on the cork sniff.

moondigger


quality posts: 11 Private Messages moondigger

Of course the waiters aren't always knowledgeable either. I was at a family birthday celebration in another upscale restaurant a few months ago, and ordered two bottles of bubbly for the group to toast with. I picked one fairly sweet bottle and one Brut from the restaurant's wine list. The waiter informed me a little while later that they were out of the Brut I ordered, and could I pick something else in its place? She knew I wanted one dry and one sweet, and suggested one that was labeled "extra dry."

I let her know that when it came to sparkling wines/champagnes, "extra dry" was actually somewhat sweet, and that if somebody wanted a truly dry sparkling wine they're probably looking for Brut or Extra Brut. She was surprised by this and asked me to point out which ones on their wine list were drier and which were sweeter. She thanked me for the info, and claimed that she had worked there for more than a year and had never known that "extra dry" and "dry" sparkling wines were relatively sweet when tasted.

jawlz


quality posts: 12 Private Messages jawlz
kylemittskus wrote:That is untrue and it also makes no sense. The cork is given to you to confirm the wine, and more importantly, the correct vintage correlation between the bottle ordered, the label, and the cork stamp.

The first pour of about an ounce is for smelling, not tasting. You should be able to detect cork taint immediately. Your ability to detect cork taint is the most acute during your first smell.



You are right that you won't get much of anything out of smelling the cork. However, in addition to checking the wine and vintage, you can also check the overall condition of the cork, which may give clues as to how well the wine was stored, if there was any leakage, etc.

That said, of course the main source of information about the wine you've ordered is going to be the small sample that's poured into your glass.

parrotice


quality posts: 6 Private Messages parrotice

So, are you only supposed to sniff the small glass you are handed? Or are you supposed to taste that too? and what about the swirling it around? I heard somewhere that that has to do with seeing how it clings to the glass. Do people do that?

Where's the crap?

chipgreen


quality posts: 184 Private Messages chipgreen

I'm looking forward to the day when a waiter hands me the screw cap for inspection. I'll make sure to sniff it deeply and roll it between my fingers for a bit before declaring the wine "capped" and asking for another bottle.

jawlz


quality posts: 12 Private Messages jawlz
parrotice wrote:So, are you only supposed to sniff the small glass you are handed? Or are you supposed to taste that too? and what about the swirling it around? I heard somewhere that that has to do with seeing how it clings to the glass. Do people do that?



All of the above. You can generally tell if a wine has gone off by the smell alone, but there's no problem with taking a sip to confirm that the wine is good or bad. The only people who would actively think less of a person for tasting a sample, IMO, are way to snobby to take seriously.

Swirling the wine around helps to get a bit of air in it and to increase the surface area of wine exposed and on the sides of the glass, which will help you to smell it and can (slightly) improve the taste/help open it up. You can also check for legs (or, as you said, how much of the wine 'clings' to the glass and how it streams down), which can help to give an indication of the alcohol content in the wine, though that isn't necessarily a sign of quality or that a wine is good/bad.

chemvictim


quality posts: 3 Private Messages chemvictim
moondigger wrote:I think this is part of the reason why some people either avoid wine or feel intimidated about it. People with a newly found interest in wine may not really know much about it yet, and fear they will be mocked or will unwittingly do something embarrassing. When I first got interested in wine (~15 years ago or so), I felt the same way. Even my budding interest in wine was enough for family and friends to consider me the "expert," which I suppose I was in comparison. So I did as much reading as I could, and asked lots of questions early on, figuring it was better to learn than remain in the dark.

An acquaintance of mine worked as a waiter in an upscale restaurant at the time, and I asked him quite a few questions, including the one about the cork. He was the one who told me the purpose of presenting the cork, and that the waiters would make a mental note of what diners did with it. They thought it particularly funny when a diner would accept the cork, sniff it deeply and then declare the wine "good stuff" based on the cork sniff.



heh...for me this is a reason to avoid waiters, not to avoid wine.

kylemittskus


quality posts: 229 Private Messages kylemittskus
parrotice wrote:So, are you only supposed to sniff the small glass you are handed? Or are you supposed to taste that too? and what about the swirling it around? I heard somewhere that that has to do with seeing how it clings to the glass. Do people do that?



The idea behind the small, initial pour is for you to swirl and sniff the wine to see if it has cork taint. That's it. The swirling is to open it a bit (relseasing esters).

Tasting the wine will tell you that you do or don't like it or confirm what you already know from the smell -- corked. And you don't want to taste a corked wine if you don't have to. Whether you're happy with your selection or not based on the taste is no concern of the restaurant. If the wine is sound, it's yours, even if you don't like it.

The swirling to see how the wine clings to the glass (the "legs" of the wine) is something that people do. What exactly the "legs" would tell you about the wine is quite debated and IMO, simply answered by saying "nothing." A wine's "legs" have no bearing whatsoever on anything that matters, as far as I know. Other things like color, clarity, etc. are important. "Legs" are only important on ladies.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

chipgreen


quality posts: 184 Private Messages chipgreen
parrotice wrote:So, are you only supposed to sniff the small glass you are handed? Or are you supposed to taste that too? and what about the swirling it around? I heard somewhere that that has to do with seeing how it clings to the glass. Do people do that?


Swirl, sniff, taste (in that order).

The swirling is mostly for the purpose of opening up the nose, or bouquet, of the wine so you can get a good whiff. It also produces the "legs" (which are indicative of how the wine "clings to the glass" as you put it) that can be seen if you hold the glass up to the light after swirling. I wouldn't bother worrying about the legs at a restaurant, though.

Swirl, sniff, taste and you're good to go.

chipgreen


quality posts: 184 Private Messages chipgreen

We were all over that one....

kylemittskus


quality posts: 229 Private Messages kylemittskus
jawlz wrote:You are right that you won't get much of anything out of smelling the cork. However, in addition to checking the wine and vintage, you can also check the overall condition of the cork, which may give clues as to how well the wine was stored, if there was any leakage, etc.

That said, of course the main source of information about the wine you've ordered is going to be the small sample that's poured into your glass.



Of course. I can't believe I didn't even think to post this in my cork response. The cork can tell if the wine has been stored well (no seepage) or if the wine may have been damaged (seepage up part way or *gasp* all the way to the top of the cork).

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

kmagt


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kmagt

Start chewing the cork. Always freaks 'em out........

chemvictim wrote:I hate it when I feel like they're watching for something. It's like they're waiting for me to do something, but what? It feels very awkward.



iByron


quality posts: 40 Private Messages iByron
moondigger wrote:Look at it to confirm it's the right cork for the bottle you ordered, if you're so inclined. (The idea, as it was explained to me, is that they're showing you it's not a lesser/cheaper wine that's been put in a better bottle and re-corked.) Otherwise just set it down on the table.

There's a good chance they're watching to see if you sniff the cork, which is funny/pointless. If you want to know what the wine smells like, smell the wine, not the cork.



The cork tells you next to nothing. Many producers use plain corks and those that use printed often simply have their name (no vintage or even specific wine info). Some even sell different closures to restaurants than to retail outlets. Obviously if the cork is old and crumbly in a recent vintage wine, or the bottom of the cork is stained red and you've ordered a white, there's a problem. Just politely take a look at it and set it aside. If it's stamped, some people like to take them as souvenirs.

The most important visual (other than the wine itself) is the label. The presenter should show it to you before opening removing the capsule so you can verify that it's the right wine and vintage. After that, it's all in the wine.

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bhodilee


quality posts: 32 Private Messages bhodilee
kylemittskus wrote:What moondigger said. The cork is really only a concern with higher end bottles that may be counterfeit.



Because they couldn't pour the lesser wine in the bottle and present you the original cork?

Generally, when they pour the sample I like to let out a soft moaning sound and shift in my chair. I find making everyone around me uncomfortable cuts down on the ambient chatter and I can enjoy my meal more.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."

– George Bernard Shaw, author (1856-1950)