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a restaurant that doesn't put your wine bottle on your table

Granted, we don't get out much, but when we went to a restaurant in San Francisco a little while ago, we noticed that nobody's wine bottle was put on the table, but were all lined up on the bar at the end of the room. The waiters were very attentive in zooming in with the bottle and refilling glasses, so I doubt anybody was waiting with an empty glass. But I would find this annoying anyway, mainly because my husband will drink all his wine immediately, while I tend to nurse it at first to drink more later. So with waiters refilling, he gets all the wine after the first glass. I do not like this. Not at all.
Have those of you who've been around lots more than us seen this style of service? And what do you think of it?

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  1. correct me if I am wrong, but the location of the wine bottle has no influence on your ability to decide what amount of wine you consume. if the waiter is serving the wine and your husband "drinks all his wine immediately" then you're in the hole. How big were the tables? Could the wine have fallen off the tables? Were they wobbly?


    1. Yeah, some restaurants have waiters schlepp bottles back & forth. They think it classy or something along those lines. I find it silly. If I see it coming, it tell them to leave my bottle in peace. I also hate waiters refilling wine glasses, it's up to each convive to decide how much / what / when.

      1. Many high end restaurants do this... As long as the waitstaff is attentive to our needs on pours, I think it is fine. I like the fact that it avoids extraneous table clutter. Especially when we have several bottles of wine.

        1. *****
          But I would find this annoying anyway, mainly because my husband will drink all his wine immediately, while I tend to nurse it at first to drink more later. So with waiters refilling, he gets all the wine after the first glass. I do not like this. Not at all.

          How is this any different than your husband (or waiter) picking up the bottle on the table and refilling the glass, while yours remains "nursed"? I don't get it.

          As far as having your wine at a different table, again -- how is this different than -- shudder -- having your wine in an ice bucket? Just because it's not on the table . . .


          1. Just tell them to leave the bottle on the table.

            1 Reply
            1. If your husband drinking all the wine is what annoys you, then shouldn't you raise it with him? Or order more wine? I don't see how the restaurant is to blame.

              1. Robert has the right suggestion. I always tell the sommelier that after the first glass, I will pour the wine. Just easier that way. Unless there just isn't room on the table (and that would have to be a really, really small table) I always ask that the bottle be left on the table if they don't do so automatically. I even want the champagne bucket within my reach if at all possible.

                1. Unless there's some table-related reason,I would think that they want to be sure they provide the service of re-filling for you, so they make sure you don't do it yourself. I think that's unnecessary and would ask that the bottle be left on the table. Maybe the servers feel they will get better tips if they can dazzle you with their attentiveness?

                  1. this happens to me, too. if it's inexpenive wine we say we want to pour our own. If it's a nice wine my dining partner (who drinks his wine real fast) usually hands me his last refill, which evens it out.

                    1. My advice would be to tell the wine server your personal preference. If it's an intimate dinner with my wife, I have not problem doing the pouring. If it's a board dinner, I can not be bothered, but will talk to the server about my preferences. I like to also "nurse" my wine and do not want a "fresh" pour into the glass, just when it's "coming around." I have never had a problem with my requests, whether the bottle(s) is on the table, or not. I did have one instance, with a very old Burg, where the bottle was off on a distant side-board and it seemed that there were only 2 glasses in that bottle! Maybe I missed a pour, or maybe... who knows, but now I keep an eye on MY bottle, when it is well off the table especially if it cost more than my auto payment.


                      1. Don't worry, my marriage will survive the difference in wine-drinking speeds. Sure my husband is willing to pour his wineglass into mine, or let me drink from his glass, but it's a lot easier if we pour ourselves. There are other reasons for wanting to pour your own wine as well: Hunt mentioned waiting for your wine to open in the glass. I posted this question on another board and got no responses from people who liked their wine poured for them at all. I was trying to find some positive responses to figure out why it was done that way. I can see that in Hunt's example of hosting a large group, it would take some pressure off the host. Woojink likes an uncluttered table. So I do have a more ballanced picture now, thanks. But I still agree with RicRios.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: wearybashful

                          It depends upon the level of service. The "fancier" (for lack of a better term) the restaurant, the more likely the waitstaff is trained to pour your wine for you, just as they are trained to re-fill your water glass. But ANY restaurant -- at least, any restaurant I've ever been to -- will leave the bottle of wine on your table/"let" you pour your own wine. All you have to do is ask.

                          (I've been to restaurants, brought in as many as a dozen bottles of wine, and opened them up myself, rather than let the waitstaff do it. Never been a problem . . . other than to reassure our waiter that they were still doing a fine job, and that we didn't think they were slacking off just because we "had" to open the wines ourselves.)

                          As for letting your wine open in the glass, this will happen whether you pour the wine yourself or someone pours it for you, so I don't quite understand what you meant there, but . . . .

                        2. I think there *could* be a difference in the division of the wine depending on whether the server is pouring or not. Perhaps the server's offer of the bottle is hard to refuse, although if left to his (or his companion's) own devices the "faster drinker" might take a pause between glasses. The power of suggestion is strong.

                          About the wine opening in the glass, the idea is that if the glass is constantly being topped off with fresh ("unopened") wine, there is nary a moment at which wine which has been sitting a while in the glass will be being imbibed. This raises all sorts of silly questions about which portion of the wine one is drinking at any moment---the fresh stuff or the stale stuff. Not sure I could really tell a difference unless it were a very tight wine. If so, the sommelier should let it open, or even decant the whole bottle, before the first pour.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bella_sarda

                            Oh, I have noticed a change with the wine + time in the glass, for even lesser reds, and some whites, especially 1er Cru Burgs. The last thing that I want is someone to splash some more wine, from the bottle, into my glass. Just pour yourself a glass of nice, older Cal Cab, or Bdx., and see how it develops in the glass. I had a wonderful Pomerol, once, that changed about 4x over the course of a half-hour. It was like having four glasses of wine - all different. Who would want to spoil that?

                            As for decanting, or caraffing, I like to take a sample from the bottle, before that "operation," to monitor the development. Often, I'll cut the time a bit short, for the wine sitting in the decanter, or ask the sommelier to wait a bit more. There are no hard-n-fast rules, only my taste, if I am the host, and, as such, responsible for the enjoyment of my guests. Try it. You might be surprised that, regardless of the recs. that you have gotten, a particular wine might need more, or less, time to develop. Again, this is per "my tastes," though I try and fill in the blanks, posed by my guest list.