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Rant: Wine annoyance

No wine for my main course. Sob. <br />Image from

No wine for my main course. Sob. Image from

Some friends and I had a strange experience in a restaurant recently, and I thought I’d mention it here to see if anyone else has come across this kind of thing.  It was a Friday evening, and five us of were having dinner.  As we were all 1) a bit skint and 2) keen to get to  the pub and get some pints into us, our plan was to just have a main course and one glass of wine each.

We were enjoying our very good main courses, when one of the waitresses came over and topped up our wine glasses.  This is not usually worth mentioning, but she did it in quite an odd way.  She dumped the bottle (which was about half full) into four of the glasses on the table and emptied it, leaving one glass with only half an inch of wine in it.  And then straight away said: ‘Do you want to order another bottle?’  We were a bit taken aback – we hadn’t asked her to top up the glasses, and if we’d done it ourselves we would have made sure that everyone got some, rather than leaving one person with no wine for their dinner.  If someone had done that with the last bottle of wine at a dinner party, you would think them to be a bit boorish and rude.

It was the most naked attempt to make customers buy another bottle of wine that I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.  Now, I do realise that restaurants count on selling wine to make a profit, and the food is extremely good value at this restaurant.  But it should be up to the customers to decide when they want to buy more wine, and people should be allowed to drink at their own pace, no?  Plus we were just having a main course and moving on, it wasn’t like we were spending the entire evening hogging a table while lingering over one glass each.  It rubbed us all up the wrong way and made us determined not to buy more wine.  It won’t put me off going back, as it’s great food at a great price, but I will try to stop the wait staff grabbing the wine next time!

Do you think it’s fair enough for a restaurant to do this, or would you have been a bit put out by it as well? Would you have said something?


  1. Have never had this happen but you know if you only have a little bit of wine in your glass and don’t want to order another drink yet they whip the glass out from under you so you are left with nothing – kills me!

  2. I read a review of a restaurant by Paolo Tullio where he said the same had happened to him. He had a name on the practice but I can’t remember for the life of me what it was. Wonder was it the same place?
    It would have put me off buying another bottle and I probably would have said something to her as she was pouring.

  3. No… this is not something that should be done. Ontop of that, I would have asked for a manager to explain her behaviour.
    I was out for dinner last week (mid-week, so fairly quietish), in a Dublin City Center place. After an hour of waiting for our main course, we questioned what was going on. They’d forgotten about it! It’s a good think the company was good! I demanded to speak to the manager and have our drinks comp’d for the wait! And sure enough, they were. It pays to give out / complain if you’re not happy with a service.

  4. Why didnt you complain? Ive never had this happen.

  5. She could have miscalculated. It can happen.

  6. I’ve seen it before and swore never to go back. The place closed down not long afterwards! Next time I’d definitely complain. I very much doubt it was accidental.

  7. I have lots of problems with the pouring of wine in restaurants. I very much enjoy sniffing my wine as I drink it, and this is impossible if the glass is practically full. This problem is ostensibly solved by the large glasses lots of decent restaurants use, but in fact this just creates other problems. For one, I feel that having perhaps a fifth or a quarter of a bottle of wine in one glass is overwhelming; if the restaurant is warm, by the time you’re getting around to finishing the glass, the wine is at the wrong temperature; and it’s more difficult to swill a large quantity of wine around the glass. I’m often saying “Just a little please” when they come to pour, or resorting to telling them that I’ll handle pouring the wine. Things get even more complicated if you’re using an ice bucket to get a burgundy down a half a degree or so which is often necessary in the summer time — in that case, horsing a quarter of the bottle on top of warm dregs can completely waste a nice wine on the wrong temperature.

    Call me a snob if you like, but I’ll always be polite in these requests; the reason I often do this stuff myself is precisely to avoid having to complain about (and of course suffer) the incorrect handling of the wine. Everyone wins!

  8. Martin, I really enjoyed your comment. There’s nothing snobby about wanting to enjoy the win you paid for!

  9. It seems to me its a staff training problem not a customer problem. Complain complain complain.

  10. I’m a waitress, and most of the time I ask my tables if they’d like me to go ahead and pour or if they’d like to “hold off for a while”, as mostly people order wine with other drinks. Most people actually don’t WANT their wine poured for them I find. If I do just go ahead and pour I only fill the glass half way.

  11. Hate it when waiters/waitresses top up my wine. I put my hand over my glass and say I’ll do it myself.
    I had a friend who said to a particularly obnoxious and pushy waitress “Are you paying? No? Then I’ll pour it myself”. Ow!