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Wednesday 4 January 2023

The most annoying thing that sommeliers do

The role of a sommelier is multi-faceted, and hugely important, in a high-end restaurant.

A sommelier is a specialist wine waiter/wine steward who specialises in all facets of beverage service.

From creating an interesting wine list; offering recommendations to customers; opening and pouring wines, it is a serious job.

Senior sommeliers will be responsible for wine buying, storage, and rotation.

A good sommelier will suggest interesting pairings of food and wine, within a diner's budget, and check the suitability of bottles under unreliable cork closures. They decant older wines when necessary and advise on the best temperatures at which each wine should be best enjoyed. 

Sommeliers sometimes come under fire for upselling, or suggesting "natural" wines that may not be to the taste of more conservative drinkers.

But there is one mistake that many sommeliers make that is easily avoided. And the customer can insist on his wishes being followed.

There seems to be universal dislike of bottles of wine being opened - and then taken away from the reach of the table to a distant sideboard, or pouring station. 

This means that customers can be left with empty glasses - particularly in a busy restaurant.

How hard is it for sommeliers to leave bottles of wine on the table for patrons to drink at their own pace?

And what even is the point of bottles being taken away from the customer? If it is to create more room on the table, then the restaurant has a design fault. 

The letters section of the November 2022 edition of Decanter magazine features several wine lovers  unhappy with this practice.

The solution is simple. Tell your sommelier to leave your bottle of wine on the table, so that you can pour it at your own pace rather than having to wave across the room to attract attention.

After all, the customer is always right. Isn't he/she?

Image: Maksim Chernyshev,

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