Wine Time

The Pour: Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Let's face it. In restaurants today, most servers are trained to fill your wine glass -- even if it's not empty -- as quickly as possible.

There are a number of reasons for this.

In all fairness to the servers, they are there to serve and for wine lovers, there's nothing more disappointing than an empty wine glass. In my view, it's part of the social contract between guests and waiters: If a diner has ordered wine, it's the waiter's responsibility to make sure that there's wine in the glass when the food arrives.

But there's no denying that many servers fill and generously refill your glass in the hope that you'll order another bottle of wine (since the margin on wine sales is generally greater than for food sales).

And an overly aggressive pour can make the patron feel rushed.

Especially when it comes to fine wine, it's important to feel confident in politely asking servers not to refill your glass.

Wine releases its aromas and flavors when it comes into contact with oxygen. And as it sits in your glass and you drink one sip at a time, its aromas and flavors develop and continue to evolve. If new wine is poured on top of wine that's been sitting in the glass, that process starts all over again. When that happens, it's always a disappointment for me: In my view, the wine drinker's greatest reward is experiencing the wine as it changes in the glass.

The initial pour should result in the greatest surface area exposed to the air. In other words, the wine should reach the point where the glass has its widest diameter. This will help to maximize the wine's aeration once poured. From that point, the glass should not be refilled until the drinker gets to the last few sips.

And even though my request is often greeted by surprise, I never hesitate to ask the server politely not to refill my glass until I'm ready.

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jeremy Parzen writes about wine and modern civilization for the Houston Press. A wine trade marketing consultant by day, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, Italy. He spends his free time writing and recording music with his daughters and wife in Houston.
Contact: Jeremy Parzen