What does the sommelier do?

A sommelier, or wine steward, is available in most higher class restaurants to help you choose a good wine to go with your meal. From the wines available, he or she will make recommendations to suit your preference and budget. When ordering wine, it is wise to remember that a single bottle of wine serves 4 to 6 people (a half–bottle serves 2 or 3) single glasses of wine. Wines by the glass and “house wine” served in a carafe are often available for a reasonable price.

If you choose a bottle, when the sommelier brings the bottle to your table, he or she will show you the label so that you can confirm that it is what you ordered. Check the label quickly, then nod if it is the one you wanted. After opening the bottle, the sommelier will place the cork on the table. You are welcome to sniff it to see if there is a “corky” smell, indicating improper storage of the wine, but it is not necessary to do this. The sommelier will pour a small amount of wine in the glass of the person who ordered the wine. That person should sip the wine to ascertain if the wine is acceptable or spoiled. According to experts there is a two in a hundred chance that a bottle will be “off” flavorwise, so taking a first sip is necessary. If the wine is ruined––and not just if you do not like that kind of wine––you should politely tell the sommelier that the wine is spoiled and request another bottle to replace it. If the bottle is acceptable, say, “Fine,” and the sommelier will pour wine into each guest’s glass.