Asking for a taste of a wine if you’re having trouble deciding is perfectly acceptable, but don’t abuse the privilege. Detaining a server to stage a private wine tasting for your table can be a nuisance, especially if you exhibit a sense of entitlement. If a waiter makes several different recommendations for wine by the glass, don’t automatically ask him to sample you on all of them. Pick the one that sounds most suitable for you and ask if it’s ok to taste it first. Even if you are picky about wine, be respectful of your server’s time. If he offers to taste you on whatever wines you’d like to try, then follow his lead. But don’t just assume he has nothing better to do than stand there watching you evaluate a $9 glass of Pinot Grigio while his station goes down in flames.
Don’t ask the waiter to bring you toothpicks. Would you ask us to bring you toilet paper when you get up to use the bathroom? Because that’s how it feels. We do not exist to help you groom yourself. We bring food. Try limiting your requests to things that can be consumed. Picking your teeth at the dinner table is disgusting anyway. If you have some parsley or leftover chewed-up ribeye stuck in your teeth, show some class and excuse yourself to the restroom or grab a toothpick from the host stand on your way out.
When you order decaf coffee, there’s no need to remind your server to make sure it’s not caffeinated. There is always a chance that anyone could go rogue and poison you with regular but, mostly, you’re just being paranoid. It’s pretty rare that even the most vindictive waiter pulls the old switcheroo with coffee service. Suspicious guests will usually attach a threat of calling us at 3 AM if it’s not really decaf. This doesn’t phase many servers, though, as we are rarely asleep by then. In fact, we’ll probably still be out at a bar drinking heavily and laughing with each other about how we snuck an espresso shot into your cup of decaf because of your threatening behavior. Just kidding!