The Wine Press : Don’t pop your cork when ordering a bottle of wine

wine-guys.jpgBy Dave Solzman, Columnist

Over the past 20 years I have opened many bottles of wine for many customers at the various establishments that together constitute my career in the restaurant industry. Here’s how I experience it.
The customer orders a particular bottle or asks for a recommendation and I scurry off, praying to the wine inventory gods that someone has not sold the last bottle without my knowledge, forcing me to return and do the “I’m sorry, we’re all out of that one, but I have this one that I think you’ll like even better,” song and dance.
Once I return with the desired selection the real performance begins.
It starts with the “show off” part. I cut the foil capsule and effortlessly extract the cork, all the while engaging the mesmerized guests in small talk and witty banter.
Now it’s time for the customer to participate and here’s where things can grind to an awkward halt. The next two steps can sometimes turn a confident, socially well-adjusted person into an insecure, blushing mess.
First I place the cork in front of them and second I pour approximately 1 to 1-1/2 ounces of wine in their glass. I have experienced everything from people tasting the cork and sniffing the wine to passing the glass around the table and then asking me what I think.
Here is the point to this story. All I or anyone serving the wine is looking for is a yes or no answer to the question “do you like the wine?”
Here’s a helpful tip; don’t smell the cork. The only thing that tells you is how the cork smells. Just look at it and observe its condition.
Next, perform the 3 S’s: swirl, smell and sip, all done in quick succession (the last one is the only really important one). The final thing you have to do is simply state your approval or disapproval. Remember, it’s your opinion we are looking for; there are no wrong answers.
This monthly column is written alternately by Dave Solzman of Delius Restaurant and Randy Kemner of The Wine Country (both located in Signal Hill). These wining and dining experts will share this column to educate, enlighten and entertain the readers of the Signal Tribune.
Suggestions for this column can be sent to or call (562) 427-8678.

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