7 Tips to Ordering Wine at a Restaurant

Let’s face it; the world of wine can be pretentious and dull, filled with important nuances and distinctions that to any normal person would appear to be obsessive. Whether the wine comes from one of the many wine regions in Italy or from a local winery down the street, there are countless options to choose from. Nonetheless, a well-chosen wine can impress your significant other on date-night; nothing screams high society like going out to a fancy restaurant and ordering the right wine to supplement a delicious meal.

When you get to the restaurant, here are some things to keep in mind.

7 Tips to Ordering Wine Like a Pro

1. Find out what kind of wine your guest enjoys

Does he/she like wine that’s red and bold or white and sweet? Finding out the tastes of whomever you’re entertaining will certainly help you choose the better wine for the table be it an intimate encounter or a casual dinner with friends.

2. Know before you go

If the list is published online it’s a good idea to take a look at it before you head to the restaurant so you have an idea of what your options are. This is always better than making a rushed and uninformed judgment based on a cool name or exotic vineyard location.

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3. Use your sommelier

Any good sommelier has spent years studying wines from regions across the world, and should know the best wines to match with any food or taste. Don’t be shy in asking your sommelier for advice on making the best selection. After all, part of the cost of the meal and wine is to have an expert who can make your evening enjoyable, so don’t be shy in speaking up and letting him or her know the kinds of wine you and your guest(s) enjoy.

4. After you’ve selected your wine, let the sommelier pour it for you

Like all things you’re about to spend a substantial amount of money for, try it out. While most people aren’t sure what to do at this point, the best next step is to swirl the glass and sniff the wine. What you’re looking for is any smell that has a hint of vinegar or other funky scent, which is a sign the wine has gone bad.

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5. If the wine passes that test, taste it

Don’t be shy in indulging a second or even a third taste to be absolutely sure you like the wine. Journalist and foodie Alan Richman says “Like sex on a first date, you’ll regret it if you’re not sure.”

After tasting, there are a couple tell tale signs of a bad bottle.

It can be oxidized, meaning the wine has been exposed to air before and will be flat and reminiscent of vinegar.

It can be “corked” meaning that certain microorganisms who live in/on the cork have infiltrated the wine and contaminated it; the wine will smell God awful and have an astringent like taste.

Maderization is a fancy way of saying the wine’s been exposed to high levels of heat – a tell tale sign is that the cork will be pushed out a bit because of the expansion effect; it’ll taste like Madeira, like some sort of candied fruits or almonds.

Lastly you want to watch for refermented wine, which happens when latent yeast causes a second round of fermentation to occur, and will essentially make your dry wine more like bubbly (not a good thing).

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6. Make sure the cork matches the label

Wine fraud is a very lucrative business and even the best and most well attentive sommeliers and restaurant managers can be fooled by some crooks with access to the right tools.

H and B wine

7. Send it back if you don’t love it

If you can’t precisely identify why you don’t like the wine you’ve chosen after you’ve tasted it don’t be afraid to consult the sommelier – that’s what he’s there for. From sulphur, brettanomyces, and acidity there are multiple criteria that make up a “good wine” and those preferences differ for everyone Do your best to articulate what aspects of this wine don’t appeal to you and any good sommelier should accommodate you with a recommendation for a wine more suited to your palate.

After a careful review of these tips you’ll be on your way to becoming a wine pro. Being confident when choosing a wine will be sure to impress your date, or guests, and more importantly allow for a fun night enjoying some great wine.

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