If guests ask me about the behavior towards wine in fine dining restaurants, I answer say to the, “If you really want to know than I will tell you, but it is going to take a while!” Why? Well, there are the hidden rules for the guest and the service staff.
Yes, of course there are rules and they must be followed by the sommelier and by staff who care about the wine service, especially in fine dining restaurants. The rules are the key for the enjoyment of wine and will help the guests to follow suit as well. But, as it is when driving on the streets of Bali, rules may exist, but they aren’t always followed: signal when turning a corner, driving in the right lane, driving on the right side of the road – rules go out the window!
Coming back to wine, often people don’t want to be called professionals, don’t want to show off, or perhaps are worried on doing the wrong thing. Thus, sadly, rules are broken or not followed. So, in case you find yourself seated at a fine dining restaurant, in Bali or anywhere else in the world, here are some rules you should keep an eye out and hopefully follow!
Faux Pas of The World of Wine
Employer of Restaurant
- The service staff does not polish the glasses in the right way and rims of water from the washing machines are seen or even food or lipstick stripes.
- Waiters grip the glass with the hands and fingers, leaving prints all over the body.
- The waiter decants wine over a candle and does not see the sediment and therefore pours the wine fully into the carafe. Very often the guest doesn’t see this either!
- Waiters tend to fill up glasses nearly to the top and the wine changes temperature whilst its sits for longer.
- The staff suggests the most expensive wines first because the waiter knows that the guest is occupying the most expensive room in the hotel or the guest drives Ferrari (for example).
- Waiters serve the wine from the wrong side and disturb the guests.
- The service knows a wine is over the top but still serves the wine to people with clear lack of knowledge of wine.
- Many restaurants have Chardonnay and Bordeaux glasses, so wine like Chardonnay and Pinot noir should be served in different glasses than Bordeaux or German Riesling wines.
- The wine cooler is only half full, that means the waiter does not care for the freshness of the white and rose wine, as only half of the bottle is getting cooled.
Guest in Restaurant
As I am a very classic man, I see the wine culture in a different way than many people and hope I will be forgiven here for my suggestions.
- The guest drinks wine out of the glass as if it is water and leaves grease stains and lip stick on the glass rim.
- The guest orders ice cubes and sticks them into the wine itself to cool it down. (If the wine is not so expensive I can see the reason that the wine is more a cocktail than a wine).
- The guest should help the waiter know his/her price range, allowing better suggestions from the waiting staff. In Indonesia the wine is so expensive therefore this is important.
- The guest should give some space for the staff to serve the wine and hopefully assist if the wine glass is out of range for pouring.
- The guest should order the white wine for the starter and already in advance the red wine before the main course arrives. So the service can decant or open the red wine before and can prepare the glasses too.
- The guest should tell the service right away when a wine is not the right temperatures, so the service can cool or warm the wine as quick as possible. That is also why wine should always be ordered in advance before the dishes arrive.
So, to have a great evening the service staff and the guest can both do their part to create a smooth and unforgettable experience. Who knows, maybe you’ll tell the story to your grand children, “we had a Chateau Latour at the Kayuputi Restaurant in Bali and the Sommelier did decant the wine in front of a beautiful ocean view where the waves were singing...”
Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the fine dining, Asian-inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 43 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for six consecutive years since its opening six and a half years ago, and dubbed as a fine restaurant that has one of the best wine lists in the Asian region. Harald is set to publish his book, titled “Wine and Dine at St. Regis Bali Resort” in the near future.