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Jan 5, 2007 06:10 PM

second bottle of wine etiqutte

When serving a second bottle of wine (same vintage and year) does the waiter have to follow the same procedure as the first bottle, or is it acceptable to just open it and place it on the table?

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  1. The waiter should always allow the customer to first taste a sample as the bottle could be corked or otherwise tainted...

    1. The second bottle should be presented just as the first. The "taster" should be given a clean glass. The server should then check the other glasses to see if any refills are needed.

      1. I strongly agree with the two, above posters. It is not about the choice of wine being the right one - the host has already verified that it is what he/she wanted. It is about the quality of THAT bottle - same for the third, or the fourth. I taste every bottle opened for my table. If the dinner/meeting is a large one, with many bottles opened prior to serving, I taste from each. The one that you decline will be the "corked" one, for sure.

        As an example: I was at a large party for a charity event, some years back. I made my way around the six wine stations and found three bottles of the Merlot to be corked. I brought this to the attention of the pourers, and at #2, reported it to the chief of catering. In a few minutes, she topped up my glass and stated, "this one is new and good." As fate would have it, that bottle was corked, as well. I do not know how many bottles of that Merlot, the host had on hand, but I encountered four out of X, that were tainted. This particular host had a live-in sommelier, but he was too busy giving tours of the host's extensive, and expensive Bdx. collection!

        Always taste - it will pay off someday.


        1. Absolutely, positively, without exception -- treat every bottle as you would the first bottle!

          1. One little nit: All of the above is correct, and BH expanded on the subject extremely well. However, there can be bottle variation - a slight difference in quality - without the bottle actually being defective. Bottle variation isn't a valid reason to reject a bottle, while a defective bottle - as BH says, almost always corked - not only can but should be rejected.

            Before someone goes nuts, there is one other "quality" issue that can justify the rejection of a bottle, and falls into the bottle variation category. That is the deleterious effect of poor storage. My palate is usually not good enuf to discern the problem, but some can - my wife being one - and the issue can be more significant with older (and usually more expensive) bottles.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Steve K

              There were some great posts about why you might reject a bottle of wine that we've moved to a new thread so they get their own space for discussion. You can find them here: