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How to Order - the right - Wine at a Restaurant

By Edited Apr 12, 2014 0 0

Whether you're on a date or out with friends you probably would like to seem as if you know a little something about wine. Or, at the very least, you'd probably like to be able to order a glass or bottle of wine that's affordable, tastes nice (with your food) and doesn't have a name that you will completely butcher.

Here are a few tips that will - hopefully - help you to browse the wine list and come up with a pick or two that will impress your date/friends and possibly even the snobby waiter.

Food Pairing: Unless you're planning on ordering a glass of champagne before your meal, you might want to think about what you'll be having to eat so that you can select an appropriate wine to order. If you're looking for an aperitif to enjoy before dinner, champagne, beer or a cocktail are usually good choices (and champagne will pair nicely with most salads, soups and fried appetizers). Ordering one of these will also give you a chance to browse the wine list while you wait for your first course.

Color: After you've made a decision on whether to order foul, seafood or red meat you should have a pretty good idea of what color of wine to order. It is fairly common knowledge that white wine goes best with foul and seafood, while red wine is best paired with red meat and some of the 'stronger-tasting' white meats like pork or game birds.

Grape/Region: Once you've made a decision on the type of food and the color of grape, you'll want to select a grape that suits your tastes and your food (but mostly your tastes). There are many grapes to choose from, so I will cover only a few of the most common.

Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc are two of the drier and more common white grapes. They contain more acidity and citrus flavors. Chardonnay is a bolder style of white wine which is a little sweeter, with oak, vanilla and buttery flavors.

When selecting a red, you might choose a Pinot Noir if you're looking for a mild, slightly sweeter red wine with lighter fruit flavors (good with lighter meats and some pork dishes, lamb or even some seafood). If you'd like a bigger, full bodied red wine, it's nice to choose a rich, peppery and spicy Shiraz (from Australia, also called a Syrah in America), or a Cabernet Sauvignon from California which packs a big bold punch and has lots of smoke flavor and rich vanilla. These big reds are great with steak or meaty pastas.

Price/Markup: Typically, the markup on bottled wine in restaurants will be at least 100% (or double the price you would find in a liquor store). However, the cheapest bottles on the menu ($20 - $30 range) will usually be marked up more than the more expensive bottles (which can sometimes be marked up only 50% - 70%. If you're looking to try something tastier, and not get gouged in the process, I would recommend trying something in the mid price range.

Bang for Your Buck: Now, with that having been said, how do you get the most bang for your buck. Think about what you're eating, the color, the grape and look into the mid-price range. There are many things to consider here, but a GREAT rule of thumb is to identify all these factors and pick the OLDEST wine in your price range that suits your needs. When all else fails, the older the wine, the better it tastes (most of the time).

Pronunciation: In order to learn the correct pronunciations, you are best advised to attend a few wine tasting events to hear them in person, or to take a quick look on the net for audio guides on pronouncing wines.

Sending it Back: Now that you're received your wine, you'll be offered a taster. Take your time tasting it (not swishing, looking and swirling), but tasting. If the wine tastes bitter or sour, send it back it is spoiled (or corked). In fact, if the wine tastes good (not corked), but you don't enjoy its flavor, you are entitled to send it back. You might say, "This wine doesn't really agree with me." This isn't a big deal, as they will simply sell that bottle by the glass later; mind you, don't do this more than once or they will probably spit in your food.

Mission Accomplished: Now that you've impressed your table by telling them which wines pair best with which particular regions, and you successfully ordered a mid-priced bottle of aged wine (that hopefully tastes quite nice), you should be on your way to enjoying a lovely dinner....or a second date ;)

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