Six Rules For Sommeliers And Other Wine Servers


With every second Cape Town restaurants now priding itself on having the services of a sommelier, it has become evident that some laying claim to this title were created more equal than others – with respect to George Orwell, who also knew a thing or two about restaurants as well as dictatorial pigs. I am no demanding ponce when it comes to wine service, but if one wishes to be identified as a sommelier, having the following skills-set is advisable:

1. Please know the wine-list. This would appear to be a rather basic requisite, but it is amazing how many times sommeliers meet my request for a certain wine with the perplexed gaze of one hearing a piece of scientific terminology in Arabic for the first time. What began with a polite and reasonably correctly pronounced interpretation – to my mind – of the words “Simonsig Tiara”, for example, leads to a confused, vacant expression from the service person. This is then often followed by the usual dim smile and the person then leaning over to stare at the wine-list in my hands, insinuating that I had cheekily requested an item that could by no means reside inside the hallowed covers of the wine menu. The situation ends with one having to physically point-out the requested wine on the page in all its 14pt font clarity, at which point your friendly server lights-up with a sympathetic smile, as astonished at the customer’s inability to communicate such a simple order as he or she is at the existence of this wine on the list of the restaurant at which the profession of sommelier is pursued.


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