So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Daily Archives: October 1, 2009


As the weather changes, people’s tastes change. More and more restaurants, even large corporate chains, are making seasonal changes to their menus; some having strictly seasonal menus and others offering limited seasonal menus in addition to their fixed menu.

As a server, you should be adhering to this as well with your wine selections. Instead of just working varietals, the great waiter will know which wines are generally lighter or heavier within those specific categories. Some cabernets are lighter and softer than others,  for instance. Some chardonnays are heavy and oaky and some are lighter and more “refreshing”. Not only should you do your best to pair wine with a specific food, you should also consider the season. Now’s the time to recommend fuller bodied wines and fall makes its presence known.

What? You didn’t recommend lighter bodied wines during summer? Well, you should have. When you pay attention to the smaller details, you perform a greater service for your guests. While I’m not saying that you should mock someone for drinking pinot grigio in the dead of the winter, you can guide your guest to season-appropriate choices.

This is where all of your wine homework comes in handy. As you learn more about wine, you’ll be able to identify vintner’s general styles and then hone in on specific bottles on your list that typify light, medium and full body characteristics. Flavor profiles are important but so are body characteristics. For instance, you wouldn’t want to pair up a light California pinot noir with osso bucco in the middle of winter, although you might pair that same pinot noir with salmon, even as you’re knocking the snow off of your boots. Or, you might actually be able to get away with pairing a big Chambertain (for the unintiated, a generally big-boned pinot noir from Burgundy) with the osso bucco, showing that you can’t always make sweeping generalizations. The more specific knowledge that you have about the wines on your list, the better.

 Even if you have a fairly limited wine list, try to learn your wines from light to heavy in each category. The advantage you have is that you don’t have a lot of wines to learn,  and they probably don’t change all that often. And you’ll set yourself apart from your peers. Unless they read this blog too…


Image of osso bucco courtesy of the blog, “Eating in Dallas” and can be found here:

New month

It’s a new month, which means that you should work up a goal for the month. Whether it be learning five new mixed drinks, or learning the exact flavor profiles of 5 wines on your list, or reducing the number of ringing errors, anything you focus on during the month will help you improve as a waiter.

Imagine how much better you’ll be after a year of polishing your craft. 12 areas of focus? Not only doable, but practical as well.

So, start thinking of one area in which you’d like to improve and get to it.