Wine Service; the dos and the do not dos. PART 5

Part 5: Please note: this article will be released in several sections. Each part will be a new FOR THE VIN blog post, and all the sections will be combined in their entirety as a booklet. It will be available to read online or download in Wine-A-Reads bookshop at after all sections have been released.

Midtro 2:

The rules on wine etiquette are long standing traditions that are accepted without question in some areas of society, but may be becoming outdated in others. I am not in charge of what the future holds, so can only relay the protocols as they have been. I am making this point in advance of releasing the chapter on wine pouring rules, because several of them are based around gender. The more modern view of gender is to accommodate a broader spectrum than the once unquestioned two-party system. I strongly believe in a live and let live society so the gender specific rules as they have been may require some tweaking, or perhaps should no longer exist at all. This article, however, is about traditional etiquette of wine service, so I am simply stating the wine pouring rules as I have long known them. I thus pass the decision of following all these rules, or some, or none, on to you. Use them at your own discretion. I don't like to tell anyone what to do, but I suggest being accepting of other people. Try questioning your own beliefs instead of someone else's, and you will undoubtedly expand your horizons.

Chapter 8: The Pour


There are many different shapes and sizes of wine glass. It is an equal mix of science and tradition which determines the most appropriate glass for each style of wine. For example, an aromatic white is usually served in a narrow rimmed glass, to preserve the aromatic qualities within the bowl. A tannic red, on the other hand, will benefit from being served in a large bowl with a more open rim, to allow oxygen integration, and unlock the flavors and aromas. (See Fig. 8-1)

The rules on pouring are based around several key points. The first, is that the server/pourer does not interfere with the guest anymore than is necessary. Attempting not to touch the guest, reach across the table, put an elbow in front of their face, or disrupt conversation, is part of the basic rules of service, wine or otherwise. To accomplish the feat of non-interference pouring, several key steps of preparation are necessary.


The placement of the glass on the table is dependent on the type of event. For a wine tasting, there are usually several glasses per person, and they are arranged from left to right, as they will be poured and tasted. For a dinner situation, the glass is positioned on the right side of each guest, approximately level with their right arm. If there are more than one glass, for example a white and a red glass, the white should be on the right with subsequent glasses positioned right to left. I will assume the dinner set-up for the remainder of this article.


Many restaurants have booths along one or several of their walls. They are a logical use of space and provide a level of seclusion that a free standing table does not. It is not possible to follow ‘proper’ wine pouring techniques in a booth, since it is necessary to reach across the table to serve the guests. Other table set-ups will create situations that inhibit the servers ability to serve as protocol dictates. The server will have to figure out the most appropriate method based on the table or booth set-up. For the remainder of the article, I will assume the classic free standing table, with room enough to maneuver behind each seat.