Vindicated! Pouring wine at bar/restaurant

Friends, business partners and dates have seen me make a case out of it. While dining out, or simply sharing a bottle of wine at a food/beverage establishment, a waiter will often come over to “top off” the glasses. When I am fast enough, I will (as politely as possible) thank them and tell them “not to worry about it”, my nice way of saying don’t you dare pour another drop of the wine I just purchased into that glass. I am fully capable of pouring my own wine thank you very much.

This may sound passively aggressive, or even just plain aggressive, to some of you, but it is something I feel very strongly about (among many other things when it comes to wine service). And there are several reasons I feel so strongly about this. The first and simplest reason is that as I continue in my lifelong journey of training my palate I like to swirl and smell the wine in my glass in between sips. But when a server insists on filling my glass as much as 3/4 of the way (or more) the swirling and subsequent smelling is made quite difficult. Along the same lines, as a wine is sitting in the glass it is evolving. By pouring “fresh” wine from the bottle into the “evolving” (and breathing) wine in the glass, that server has taken away my ability to appreciate the evolution of the wine in the glass. There are many other reasons I prefer to pour my own wine, from setting my own pace for drinking (as opposed to being rushed to either leave or order another bottle) to pouring each person only as much as they want, which is not necessarily always an equivalent amount to everyone else at the table.

I bring this up today, and feel vindicated over this seemingly obsessive behavior, following an opinion piece written by Roger Cohen yesterday in the New York Times, entitled “Of Wine, Haste & Religion“. Cohen cited both a “kind interpretation” for the practice (the server trying to be as attentive as possible) as well as an “uncharitable view” – “to hustle clients through a meal and as many bottles of wine as possible”.

I especially liked his opinion that “The time that goes into the making of (the bottle of wine) should be reflected in the time it takes to drink (it)”.

The reasons we feel strongly about pouring our own wine, or the servers feel the need to top off the glasses are irrelevant.  Whatever the “reasons” for this practice, they must stop.  Unless I specifically tell a server that I am unhappily out with whomever it is and to help me speed things up, I strongly prefer to set the pace of my meal, and not have it set for me.

Happy slow & steady wine drinking!


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