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Sep 27, 2007 06:00 AM

Waitstaff topping off glasses from bottle on the table... [moved from Wine board]

I have a question. I went to dinner w/2 friends last night. I was ordering by the glass, they split a bottle. One friend is a every time the waitress swung by, the guzzler's glass was almost empty and the waitress stopped and refilled it. The other friend was sipping and the end result is she got just over 1 glass out of the bottle. She was a bit peeved and said a firm NO when asked if anyone would like to order another bottle. Is simply refilling the glass of whoever is nearly empty the standard practice? At some point should she have realized she was filling one all the time, and the other never?

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  1. In my experience yes, the waitstaff refills the empty glasses. I think it was up to the sipper to say "thank you, but we will pour our own wine". Or, if the sipper knew the other was a "guzzler" the sipper should have ordered by the glass as well.

    7 Replies
    1. re: gourmanda

      Ah, so simple and yet I never thought of it...."thanks but we'll pour our own".

      1. re: JaneRI

        I guess I don't see the problem. Both people drank at their own pace, the server refilled as needed, and the drunk went home and watched Lifetime !

        1. re: TonyO

          But the sipper DID want more....just wanted it a bit more slowly. Unless you're the closest of friends, it's a bit awkward to say "wouldja stop being such a pig?"

          1. re: JaneRI

            I guess that's the difference between men and women ! I would have grabbed the bottle and polished it off !

            1. re: JaneRI

              But presumably if the customers poured their own wine, the guzzler's glass would be filled at the same rate. The only difference is the owner of the hand on the bottle. The problem here is with an inattentive/inconsiderate dining partner, not the waitstaff.

                1. re: zin1953

                  >if the customers poured their own wine,
                  that is a big IF.

                  if my co-bottle mate is filling my glass, i suppose it is defensible
                  to guzzle. otherwise, if i am filling my own glass ... well it's the
                  difference between "give and take".

                  but i agree for slightly other reasons, it's perfectly reasonable for
                  the server to refill and empty glass unless a bottle syndicate member
                  indicates they will do self-help. so the issue here is really the guzzlers
                  conscious or unconscious lack of consideration for the sipper ... again
                  of some interest whether he's unaware of bottle syndicate norms or
                  doesnt care about them, but unware isnt exculpatory.

                  ok tnx.

      2. I think the proper thing to do would have been for the guzzler to try to match pace with the sipper, or vice-versa. I know I have some friends who are slow drinkers and slow eaters; unless I want to be sitting there empty-handed for 30 minutes, I try to match pace with them and draw out the time we get to spend with each other.

        9 Replies
        1. re: JungMann

          "I think the proper thing to do would have been for the guzzler to try to match pace with the sipper, or vice-versa"

          So one or the other would be discomfited and enjoy their dinner less? Doesn't seem a fine solution.

          An adult dining out has the only responsibility for ensuring that they have all the wine, water, coffee, food that they want.

          It seems ridiculous, unless a limit was agreed upon earlier, to complain that one didn't get enough wine, when the readily avaialble option is to buy all the wine one wants.

          Or you go back to family table rules: you snooze, you lose.

          1. re: FrankJBN

            Really? I don't see it that way....if I split a bottle w/a friend, I figure we both are entitled to roughly 50% of that. I don't think I have the right to drink most of it. You say "unless a limit was agreed upon earlier..." To me, when you decide to SPLIT a bottle, a limit is each get half. When you split an appie, and a plate comes bearing 4 pieces of something, don't you assume just two of those belong to you by default? Not 3 if you can gobble them down quickly enough?

            1. re: JaneRI

              I think it is different with a bottle of wine where one can pour 1 oz into topping up a glass a dozen times and still have a half bottle left.

              Plus, I find that when I dine out with friends, no one is interested in whether or not I ate more. I often insist to no avail that I should pay more because I ordered an extra app, or dessert. Apparently many people like to split bills evenly no matter who ate or drank what. I don't, but that's because I recognize my appetite and capacities.

              So no, I do not agree that "split" has to mean 50-50. (Point of fact, when I split a 12 pack with certain one of my buddies, I assume he will drink 8 or 9 and I wll drink 3 or 4. We're still splitting it,)

              Still and all it is the question of the dynamics of the ongoing meal.

              Part of that dynamic is that apparently these two were strangers splitting a bottle since one was known to be a guzzler by the OP, but not by the sipper.

              (The same friend I mention above, I have another friend who will not split with him 'He drinks all the dmaned beer himself')

              We split a bottle of wine. My glass is refilled by the waiter. Do I now sit until the end of the meal to see if the other party will eventually refill their glass? At the end of the meal, turns out they only wanted one glass, the two remaining glasses would be mine - if I want them with my apple pie.

              No, it is not my responsibility to keep track of how much someone else, even my bill-splitting co-diner is eating and drinking. Should I notice the waiter is filling my glass and not the other? Should I assume they are never getting any more of the wine? What does it have to do with me?

              Now, if I am pouring the wine, and I notice there is but one glass remaining, it behooves me to ask if the other person wants it (or some of it). But, particularly since the waiter is pouring the wine, how is the drinker going to notice how much wine is left in the bottle and this is crucial.

              While we all know how many pieces are half of four pieces, you might be surprised how many people have no conception of how much wine is in a bottle or a glass.

              I have to think most people who split a bottle of wine don't know that they get 2 1/2 5 oz glasses out of it. Nor would they know that if 6 ozs are being poured, by the third time one glass is filled, there is nothing left for the other.

              1. re: JaneRI

                This situation is roughly like that of the one diner who orders more and more expensive courses when the check is being split. In some cases everyone's OK with it but, more often, some get their noses out of joint over it.

                I think the person who allows the server to help them drink most of the wine is being selfish at best. They should at least ask the slower drinker if they're OK with less (they might be). Better would be for them to ask the server to slow down so everyone can enjoy as much as they like. Not everyone is that observant or thoughtful, unfortunately.

                1. re: JaneRI

                  Jane, you are absolutely correct. Splitting a bottle is 50/50. It's up to the drinker who drinks less to say, "you can finish it off" if they don't want any more. The Guzzler is simply rude. It's definitely NOT a you snooze you lose situation.

                2. re: FrankJBN

                  "you snooze, you lose?"
                  hmmm. consider this.
                  I do not like to eat my food without chewing it. I had a couple over for dinner, my husband prepared the meal. The salad hits the table. The male of the couple dives into his salad as if he is starving. finishes his plate. Takes seconds. Everyone else is still on firsts. He finishes his plate again, and says, "Hey, i'm going to finish this off", then he takes thirds and scrapes out the salad bowl while everyone else at the table is still on their first serving.

                  That is just plain rude. Make an attempt to match your pace to your seatmates- whether that means speeding up or slowing down a little. We are eating a meal together- not foraging for our lives in the wilds.

                  1. re: nummanumma

                    Not sure changing the pace of eating what's on your own plate is so much the issue, though we're going to agree, ultimately about the outcome. It's just basic manners to keep an eye on how much is in the communal dish and not eat more than a fair share until after others have had the chance to eat an equivalent amount and passed on it.

                    I think you can eat what's on your own plate as quickly as you'd like....but that doesn't entitle you to everything else on the table. Personally, I can't eat any faster than I do and wouldn't try but I wouldn't expect anyone else to slow down to match me, either.

                    1. re: nummanumma

                      I totally agree nummanumma.....the concept of "you snooze you lose" sounds like animals in the wild when applied to friends & family dining together.

                      I still say that when you say "let's split" there is a reasonable expectation that each person will get roughly half. It's not a money issue's that I plan my meal and what I order by how much food I'll want or need.....if there are four pieces of an appetizer I don't think I'm out of line by assuming two are mine, and if you're quicker than me you're NOT going to reach for a third.

                      1. re: nummanumma

                        God, numma .... what a rude guest! This person would NEVER be invited back to my house again. (I think I dated this guy in a past life too....) Wasn't his wife horrified? Or just clueless? I would have paused after he finished his second helping and said "there IS an entree! Please dont spoil your appetite!" But I suspect even a remark like that would have gone right over his head.

                  2. Wait staff are generally trained to keep all glasses full -- water as well as wine. The advantage -- for them -- is that they work on tips, and if they a) provide good service (e.g.: keeping water [and wine] glassess full, it's perceived as good service and thus tips will increase; and b) they have a better chance of selling a 2nd bottle, thereby increasing the total bill, and thus their tip.

                    As gourmanda suggests, just say "thank you, but we will pour our own wine".

                    1. The server is not a hall monitor. it's your wine, your table, your pace.

                      Could you imagine the contra-thread to this, "The waiter who wouldn't fill my wine glass when empty"


                      1 Reply
                      1. I think it is about the friendship. If you know your friend is a drinker, then either ask for the bottle to split into two carafes (which says a lot about the friendship), give it up that the friend is worth thirty dollars and order another bottle, or go in knowing that the friend is a guzzler, and order your own. The uncomfortable feelings that come up when you feel like somebody is taking way more than their share, can go way deeper than the bottle of wine. For instance, at your own home, where you may have paid for the whole kit and kaboodle, you most likely wouldn't want to make one person feel like they could only have two glasses of wine, and only at the pace of the slowest drinker, you would buy enough bottles to make sure everybody had enough.