One of the questions you ask me most often concerns precedence, i.e.: "the sommelier who should serve first at the table?" FISAR or AIS does not matter, the rules are identical for any association. If I hadn't studied, as a woman, I would tell you that out of gallantry the sommelier must serve the women first... and indeed this is almost always the case! The rules of correct room service teach us that wine should be served first to the oldest woman and then on to the youngest. On this point, however, I have several misgivings: in fact, I often happened to go to a restaurant together with other female journalists and bloggers of more or less the same age. Let's just say that we were all between the ages of 28 and 40, that is. Guessing the age is not always easy and, in the event of glaring mistakes, a gaffe is guaranteed! That is why I find this rule correct only if the age difference is really really obvious! Then can you imagine a whole table of lady sommeliers and insiders who KNOW that you sommelier will serve the woman you BELIEVE to be the oldest first? Help! Not to mention that classmate of mine with whom I used to go every Thursday to a wine shop in Ravenna to drink a glass of red wine and always served her first, even when there were three of us or more. I remember once she came up to me upset and said: 'I googled it! I know why they always serve me first!" Now that her crow's feet were evident and that there was not the slightest trace of a wrinkle on my face is a fact, but she was -rightly- very annoyed about it, since at the time of the events we were both in our second or third year of engineering.
Serving wine: informal occasion
So who should the sommelier serve first at the table? If you are reading this article and you are an aspiring sommelier who has to take the AIS examination, I advise you to stick to the rule and write down that it is correct to start by serving the oldest woman and always keep the contact person lastthe one who asked you for the bottle. However, I would like to take the liberty of giving you some advice, as a woman, as an expert, as a journalist... as an older sister who wants to know you are alive and not devoured by an Alsatian shepherd after the woman you thought was older (and she wasn't) has torn you to pieces and hidden your corpse in her cellar (and I'm not talking about the wine cellar!). Look at your table and choose a woman with a flashy detail -makeup, wig or clothing- because if she chose it and wore it, it means she is absolutely delighted if you notice it. Then throw out a brilliant phrase like: "I'm off to serve this lovely lady/girl because she has a brooch in my favourite colour!"or even better "I start the service with her because she has the same hairstyle my girlfriend had the day I met her!". 😍 TAAAAAC, in just one second you knocked out at least 4: you're brilliant, romantic, you made no reference to age, you noted a detail for which she invested time and/or money and you didn't even use the very dangerous lady or miss formula that nobody likes. Because let's face it, I feel old when I'm called "ma'am". Besides, I'm not even engaged, let alone married. And I don't always remember that for good old Monsignor Giovanni Della Casa we're all ladies over 18, you know? 😱 Of course, it's always a form of respect to say "ma'am" or "miss", but trust me: if you can AVOID it. Glissa. Erase these two words from your vocabulary, unless you see them wearing a finger ring that costs more than your car and a wedding ring on top or underneath, in any case not on the side. If, on the other hand, there is a nun or a parish priest, you're on your horse: serve them first and fear passes!
Serving wine: formal occasion
At a formal lunch or dinner, however, who should the sommelier serve first at the table? You should know that for these occasions there is a State Ceremonial that imposes a precise order for serving wine:
- Heads of State
- Presidents of the House and Senate
- President of the Council of Ministers
- Party Secretaries
- Presidents of Regions
- Chief of Defence Staff
- Ambassadors of the Republic
- Members of Parliament (Italian and European)
- City mayors
- Knights of Labour
- Captains of large industries
- Chief of Police
- Chief of Staff of the various Weapons
At these official lunches You MUST NOT let any of the guests taste the wine because you have already checked it. Be careful, however, that there is no poison, which you never know in these times... 😇
And nothing, now I challenge you to remember the exact order. If you happen to be faced with such a service, write it down on a wrist, that on your hand with a wet bottle might rub off! But then how do you recognise them? That they have their role as well as their name written in the placeholder? Mmmmh, to me, writing the role instead of the name on the place card seems like one of those clumsy things...
What do you think? 😁
Have you already bought my book 'How to become a Sommelier'?
There's really everything you need to know to study, but also so much more to avoid making dangerous blunders like this! Or maybe not... 🤣
The handbook is designed for all aspiring sommeliers, but is also very useful for 'already sommeliers' who want to brush up or for winelovers who want to start giving their passion a concrete foundation.