Some Sommeliers just have the knack. They nail the recomendation every time, because they’ve put in the hard yards learning about all the different styles of wine – they know the producers, the regions, the varieties. They’re gracious, generous and switched on.
All in all, they’re the types that wouldn't dare commit any of the ‘somm crimes’ we’ve listed below….if you catch the sommelier doing any of these, confiscate their corkscrew. (luckily these crimes are few and far between, as most sommeliers are consummate professionals, but, like anything, it pays to watch out….)
1. Serving Wines too Cold
Nothing worse. Literally, you’ve splashed the cash on a fancy bottle of Burgundy or maybe an old Aussie Shiraz, and the wine comes out at about 4 degrees. We get it, it’s hot in Australia, so better keep the bottles chilled….but you still want to be able to taste the wine!
2. Cellaring Conditions
Kind of connected to service temperature, but can also be other issues. If your bottle comes to the table with a ripped/torn label, or maybe crinkled as though it’s got wet….chances are it has. Wine needs to be treated like a perishable food item – stable, cool temperature, no direct light, little movement, adequate humidity. If any of these get missed, your bottle could suffer. And nobody wants that.
3. Offering the list straight to the man
Really? In 2018? You’d be surprised. Or perhaps not. Regardless, this happens night after night in restaurants around the world. I get it all the time, and my wife is a sommelier! Causes no end of grief. The simple rule is, the wine list goes to whoever asked for it, or if no-one asked, just put it on the table!
4. Not listening to the guest!
Ahhh this is a doozy.
It generally goes something like this :
Me – “I’d like a dry riesling please”
Terrible Sommelier – “You should try this amazing Slovenian Pinot Gris”
Me – “Yes, ok, is it high in acidty and dry (like the riesling I ordered)
TS – “No but it is good”
Me - ????
The Sommelier is there to work out what the guest wants and then suggest something, not simply try and sell whatever they’re enjoying drinking at the time
5. Not offering a taste
This last one rarely happens, but if it does….
Every time you order a bottle of wine in a restaurant, you should always be offered a taste of said bottle. Of course, you can choose not to taste if you prefer, in which case they’ll just pour the bottle (or perhaps taste it themselves). But why not?
It's technically meant for you to check if the bottle is flawed, but why not take the opportunity to smell and taste the bottle you’ve just ordered…besides, you get to do it first. Lucky you.
Take our fun palate profile quiz here and we’ll recommend three bottles that we think you'll love according to your results and get you started.