Your dining at an upscale restaurant and you have managed to go through the several page wine list and have ordered what you hope is the appropriate bottle of wine. What happens next? One of the last remaining rituals of restaurant service is the pouring of a small sample from the bottle of wine for the host to try. I believe a vast majority of us who do the trying are not too sure of the point of it. First, check make sure that the wine being poured is the wine you ordered. One time I had ordered a wine of a vintage year (more expensive) and the wine they were ready to pour was of a different year. You certainly have the right to point out that it is the wrong year. Secondly when the waiter hands you the cork what do you do? I was never really quite sure what to do with the cork. I would sniff it, and I can tell you that you will not be able to determine from smelling the cork if the wine is good. Forget the sniffing! Do check and make sure that the cork is in good condition and is not dry. This will determine if the cork has dried out and if the wine has been appropriately stored on its side. The tasting of the wine is to check the temperature and whether the wine has a fatal flaw. Quite often red wine is served too warm and white wine is too chilled. When the practice of serving red wines at room temperature started, people were living in drafty castles with no central heating. An over chilled white wine will lose much of its bouquet and taste. If that is the case, do not be afraid to ask for an ice bucket and chill the red, if the whites are too cold leave the wine out of the ice bucket.
Now for that final flaw. You may not send wine back just because you do not like the taste, but instead has the wine gone bad. One flaw is that the wine smells too moldy to enjoy. The most common reason for this smell is a tainted cork. Such wines are referred to as corked or corky. A bad cork is a reason that the use of artificial corks or screw tops are becoming more popular. The second problem is that the wine may have been stored improperly. In sixty years of drinking wine (I started at a very young age) I have only had to return the wine two or three times. The one I most remember was a bottle that was bad. The waiter returned with a second bottle of the same wine that had also had gone bad. The manager tried the wine and acknowledged that the wine was bad, Upon checking, he found the case of wine and been placed next to a heating unit, and the entire case was ruined.
That final ritual is the swirling of the wine in your glass to allow those all-important aromas to collect, and then nodding to the waiter in your new knowledge that the wine is fine and may be served to remaining guests