It happens in restaurants around the world thousands of times a day.
A diner orders a bottle of wine. The server fetches the bottle from the restaurant’s cellar, brings it to the table and shows the guest the label to verify the accuracy of the order.
Next, the server uncorks (or unscrews) the bottle, and pours a small amount of wine into the guest’s glass. The idea is for the guest to verify that the wine has not been tainted in any way.
Typically, the guest will swirl the wine a little bit, take a sip, and tell the server that the wine is fine.
Long ago, I stopped tasting the wine after swirling it, and instead just sniffed it. If a wine is tainted, one should be able to identify an off-odor. If the wine smells okay, it will taste okay.
But there’s something else I should have been doing all along, and finally started to do a few years ago.
While the server is tracking down the bottle I’ve ordered, I take a moment to visually examine my wine glass and also smell its interior.
Here’s why: Most restaurants wash their wine glasses in their dishwasher, which means they can pick up a soap film if they aren’t thoroughly rinsed, and even can pick up odors from some “assertive” foods on plates, such as fish.
Even a wine glass that looks crystal clear can have a lingering odor from someone’s dinner plate.
So before smelling the wine that you’ve ordered, smell the glass from which you’re going to drink it. It may prevent you from sending back a perfectly good bottle of wine, which doesn’t do anyone any good and actually contributes to higher restaurant wine prices.