Ordering wine at a restaurant isn’t difficult, but there’s definitely some protocol that goes into the process if you don’t want to look like a fool in front of your date. So even if you’re not the most wine-savvy fella, follow these 5 simple tips, and we can guarantee that you’ll impress your date and find an excellent bottle of wine that you’ll both enjoy.
1. Always get the wine list. You’ll be handed a wine list upon being seated at a restaurant 99 percent of the time. If not, always ask for one, even if you’re not sure if your date drinks wine. Courtesy is key here, and it’s always better to have the wine list and order nothing, rather than wrongly assume that your date doesn’t drink wine. Catch my drift? Most importantly, you don’t want to be stuck with the cat pee-tasting house wine or the waiter’s preference. There’s always the strong chance that he’ll try to upsell you on a wine that may or may not be very good.
2. Red or white? Forget your personal preferences and ask your date what s/he prefers. If your date has no preference, you can base your decision on what s/he plans on ordering as an entrée. However, this doesn’t always go over well with the less decisive types.
On the other hand, an easier way to decide on red or white is by basing your decision on the weather. For example, if you walked into the restaurant with heavy coats, go with a red. If the weather outside is warm, go with a white. Weather always has an influence on what types of food and drink our palates crave.
3. Decipher the list. Most wine lists will include the producer, the variety, the region, and the year, and they should. After you decide on white or red, find something in your price range. Keep in mind, vintage wines will always cost more, but that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll taste better. From there, narrow your choices down to no more than three selections.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you can’t decide on which wine to order from your list of three, ask the wine specialist, or, if one isn’t available, talk to the waiter. Many new wine drinkers haven’t yet discovered the qualities they’re looking for in a fine wine, and if this is you, ask the waiter or wine specialist for his recommendation of the three that you picked.
If the waiter/wine specialist tries to recommend a different one that is outside of your price range, politely decline and ask which wine of the three you selected is ordered most often at this particular restaurant.
5. Final inspection. This is important stuff here, so stay with us. Once the wine is brought to your table, look at the label and make sure that it is the wine you ordered. Once the waiter pours a bit in your glass, lift the glass to your nose, smell the wine, and take a sip. Unfortunately, this isn’t your chance to taste test a wine to see if meets your taste preferences— this is simply to make sure that you haven’t received an infected or spoiled bottle of wine. If the wine smells or tastes moldy or vinegary, bring it to the waiter’s attention and request a new bottle. If it smells and tastes fruity, it’s good to go.
So there you have it, you oenophile (a catchy word for “wine lover”) to-be.