…before I take any wine to the tableĀ I look at the label, check the year..


Before I take any wine bottle to the guest I look at the bottle and read the label to make sure that vintage, name, bottling and vineyard match the order and the wine list’s description. Sometimes by mistake wines with identical looking labels end-up in the wrong bin. And I have made the mistake of serving wine from the right bin with the wrong vintage for the wrong price before.

Some customers do notice such and say nothing, others might insist on a replacement bottle only after the wine is opened. Any which way, it is not only embarrassing but can be rather costly too. For example the same label from Stag’s Leap Merlot 1991 and 1986 means two totally different wines and price-ranges. Or take Mondavi Chardonnay, same bottle, same label – one has Reserve in red printed in a corner, the other not – again a big difference in price. What about the Freemark Abbey, all their bottles and labels look alike? My advice, better read the label word for word and always check the vintage. Yes! I learned the hard way. I had to pay the difference between wine served and price charged, several times out of my own pocket.

If the wine bottle matches the order, I carry the same with the care it deserves to the guest and show him the label. Often I read the year and name to him “Sir here is your 1981 Cabernet Sauvignon Bosche, by Freemark Abbey!” before I attempt to open the bottle. I usually wait for the guest to say “Go ahead open it!”

by helmut schonwalder