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Whether you're having a dinner party or waiting tables, knowing the basics of pouring wine properly can be important for your success. You don't want to make embarrassing mistakes with the cork, move the wrong way around the table, or spill wine on the table, yourself, or your guests. To avoid such troubles, you may want to practice by yourself before the big day comes.
Don't make an attempt at pouring wine with moisture or food debris on any part of your hands. If you do, the bottle may slip, leading to spilled wine, a broken bottle, and disgusted guests or customers. Take the time to clean your hands and wipe them completely dry. Then take the bottle firmly in your hands and remove the cork, being careful to avoid pushing it, or bits of it, into the bottle. Keeping a firm hand on the bottle will not only help you to avoid losing your grip, but it will also help you to avoid smudging the bottle.
Holding the bottom of the wine bottle, aim its opening towards the center of the first glass. This glass should not go to a guest or customer. Make sure it is either an extra glass or your own. The purpose of this is to ensure that your guests or customers don't have to deal with bits of cork that may have fallen into the bottle.
Before you begin pouring wine for the others, check its smell and coloring. You'll also want to make sure the wine is at the right temperature for serving. Fill the first glass up about midway. You should always leave some room, so that the guests or customers can swirl the wine around in their glasses and take in the aroma without risking spills and sloshes. Your pouring speed should be slow to minimize the risk that you will spill.
If you are waiting tables and pouring wine for customers, give the first glass to the person who ordered it, and wait for him to swirl it, smell it, and taste it. Once he gives his approval, it's okay to pour wine for the other people at the table. To do this, go clockwise around the table, standing to the right of each person as you pour his glass of wine, preferably over his shoulder. Many people recommend turning the bottle as you are moving away from each glass. This is said to help avoid dripping.
One of the best ways to pour wine is to first pour it in a decanter and let it sit for a bit before serving. A good decanter will allow the wine to breathe a bit and can noticeably improve its flavor, and that's particularly true when it comes to decanters that have a system built in to oxygenate wine.
A good decanter can make that mid-level wine taste even more expensive. Besides, it looks way cool to pull out a decanter when serving wine to guests. It just shows that a little extra care was given to the wine and people tend to appreciate that.