Take Control to Avoid ‘Topping Up’


There are only three possible reasons for a server in a restaurant to regularly “top up” the wine glasses of diners:

  1. The server is trying to drain the bottle with the hope of selling the diners another.
  2. The restaurant is extremely busy, and the server is trying to “turn over” the table as quickly as possible.
  3. The restaurant owner preaches first-class customer service, and believes that having the staff regularly replenish the wine glasses is a service courtesy.

Only the owner, the sommelier and the wait staff know for sure, but if a diner believes that either No. 1 or No. 2 applies, that restaurant should be crossed off the list for future nights on the town. However, if the diner believes that No. 3 applies, then it’s time to have a few minutes of friendly “face time” with the owner.

Why? Isn’t the pursuit of outstanding customer service a good thing?

Absolutely. But regularly “topping up” a wine glass is not good customer service. The additional visits to the table can interrupt the flow of conversation, deprive diners of an enjoyable aspect of wine drinking, and even waste wine.

Even in the relatively few minutes that wine is in a glass, it evolves. Its aroma changes. Its flavor spectrum tends to expand. But when the glass is constantly refilled, that evolution is stifled.

But even more egregious is the matter of wasted wine. Let’s say you’re dining with someone who really isn’t into wine — or, at least, the wine that is being served. They’ll take a sip every so often, but have no intention of finishing it. When that patron’s glass is regularly “topped up,” chances are good that a nearly full glass of wine will remain on the table, unconsumed, at meal’s end.

When dining out, follow this advice: Once the bottle of wine is brought to the table and uncorked, politely (but firmly) inform the server that you, as the host, would like to be in charge of pouring it. In a restaurant that truly embraces customer service, the server not only will gladly oblige, but probably will be somewhat relieved.


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Posted in Wine Buzz
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