Wine Etiquette: 10 Dos and Don'ts When Dining at a Restaurant
Updated: Mar 15
Whether you're out on a date, celebrating a special occasion with your family, or out with clients at a business meal, knowing how to order a bottle of wine can instantly impress the people you're dining with. Of course, it takes more than knowing a brand of wine to look polished. In social settings like dining at an upscale restaurant, it's important to know proper wine etiquette.
Just like any other passion or hobby, learning about proper wine behavior has several benefits regardless if you're a new drinker or a seasoned wine enthusiast. Below are some of the advantages of knowing your way around wine that makes it an exciting experience:
Instantly impress your family, friends, colleagues, or date.
Enrich and make your dining experience more comfortable.
Proper pairing and exploration of flavors develop your senses—a good starter for exciting conversations!
Enjoy wine in the company of others confidently with proper wine etiquette. Here's a handy infographic detailing the dos and don'ts of handling wine when dining at a restaurant.
Dos and Don'ts of Proper Wine Etiquette
Observing proper wine etiquette shows that you know how to handle and share a bottle or two with your companions. Check out some of the customs of wine drinking and service when dining at restaurants to look like a polished diner slash wine connoisseur.
Do smell the wine glass.
This is a step many casual wine drinkers frequently miss, as it's trivial and seems unnecessary for the uninitiated. Before your bottle arrives, check your wine glass for any grime and dreadful smell caused by improper cleaning or poor storage. Failure to replace an unclean wine glass can affect wine quality and leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Do put the right amount of wine.
The standard pour is 5 to 6 ounces or about 3/4 cup of wine. To ensure you get the measurement right when dining out, you can practice pouring water into a wine glass first to get familiar with the right amount.
When pouring, make sure to rotate the wine bottle away as you stop to avoid tiny drips. You can always use a napkin to catch and wipe any drip if it happens.
Do hold your wine glass properly.
Cupping the glass with both hands will warm your wine, which you don't want to do especially if you have white wine. There are proper ways of holding wine glasses you should know.
If you have a red wine like the Vina Tondonia Tinto Reserva 2005, hold it by the bowl as if you're cupping a tennis ball. If you have a white wine like Vincent Girardin Puligny Montrachet Vieille Vignes 2015 before a meal, hold the white wine glass right at the top of the stem.
Do smell your wine.
Ask a true wine enthusiast or hobbyist about how to properly drink wine, and they'll tell you to engage your senses as soon as you hold the wine glass in hand. There are four basic steps in tasting wine: you have to look at, smell, taste, and ponder about that experience.
Smelling the wine not only affects how you process the flavor but it's also an essential step to the tasting ritual. It's also an opportunity to ensure the wine isn't spoiled. Give it a good swirl to release its aroma into the air.
Do offer wine to others before yourself.
Usually, sommeliers or waiters pour a small amount for the host first. Then, once you're all good with the wine, you get the chance to pour some to others on the table.
The unwritten rule is to offer wine to others before yourself. Start offering wine clockwise to the right, ladies first. The host gets to be topped last. While you're at it, ask your companions which wine they prefer, and if some don't like wine, don't force it on them.
Don't send the wine back just because you didn't like it.
Just because you're not crazy about the taste of the wine you chose doesn't mean you can send it back. Normally, wine servers allow you to smell and taste the wine to check the smell, taste, and quality of the wine. It's also an opportunity to see if the wine is corked—if it is, you can send it back and get a different bottle.
However, if there's nothing wrong with the wine and it's simply because it's not what you expected, it's not good etiquette to return it for a different bottle.
Don't hold the glass straight when topping up.
When a server is topping up your glass, avoid holding it straight up. As they pour the wine with you holding the glass straight up, bubbles form. When that happens, they have to wait for about 10 seconds for the bubbles to fizzle out before they can finish topping. That said, tilting the glass is the proper and fast way to top a glass. If you're doing the pouring for the others, ask them to do the same.
Don't fill your glass to the brim.
Since you already know how much wine should be poured in every serving, overfilling the glass will make you look like you're hogging the wine. Additionally, pouring too much wine leaves no room to swirl and appreciate the aromas properly. If you're having a glass at home, you can fill it as you please. But if you're dining at a restaurant, make sure to follow the proper etiquette for a posh dining experience.
Don't serve too much wine.
Not everyone may be into wine or can have more glasses than they can manage, and that's OK. Regardless of the occasion, you don't need to have more than a bottle to finish in one sitting. Only serve the right amount of wine to everyone at the table, especially if many of them are designated drivers. If you fail to finish a bottle, you can always ask the server if you can take it home.
Don't order the cheapest wine.
Excellent wines don't come cheap. But that's not to say cheap ones aren't good either. It all depends on personal preference and budget, after all. However, if you're dining at a restaurant with important people, it's only polite to order something that fits the occasion.
Don't automatically go for the cheapest wine, especially if it doesn't offer the notes you're looking for. You can ask the sommelier for a bottle that has the taste and characteristics you're looking for within your price point.
Handle Your Wine the Right Way
From pouring the right amount of wine to holding the glass, proper wine etiquette can instantly change the way people perceive you and elevate your dining experience. When in doubt, ask the sommelier or waiter for assistance and recommendations, especially if you're looking for the best wine-and-food pairing to impress your companions further.
If you're still iffy about dining out or can't go out because of government lockdowns, you can create a posh restaurant atmosphere and satisfy your wine cravings right at home with Txanton, a distributor and retailer of premium wines in the Philippines. Head over to Txanton's Online Wine Shop now to explore a fine selection of wines.