When dining out at a restaurant, ordering a bottle of wine can be a delightful experience. However, for those who may not be well-versed in the world of wine, it can also be quite intimidating. Knowing what to do, and what not to do, can ease your anxiety with a few helpful tips.
Going to a great restaurant should be an escape from the everyday. Staff are there to make your meal pleasant, enjoyable and effortless. The goal is to get you to come back with exceptional service, great food and ambience.
In today’s instant gratification world, the art of service has often been lost to many. Going to a check-out at a retail store with a tip feature is still befuddling to me, the cashier has done nothing to help me with the sale except take my money. Why would I tip for serving myself?
Restaurants are no different. Seeing the server at the beginning of my meal, followed by a quick fly-by to check-in – not even stopping to hear my answer, and the standard “offer a compliment before paying” at the end, (hoping it will impact the amount of the tip) is disappointing to me. It isn’t genuine, and I do not come back.
Ordering wine should be a pleasant experience, exciting and fun.
Do not be afraid to ask the server for recommendations or express your preferences, or table preference: Remember, the staff are there to assist and guide you in making the right choice to enhance your experience. They are the professionals, who should be knowledgeable about wine, pairings and the wine available in the cellar.
Do not order before everyone has decided on their meal: If everyone is having spicy food a heavy red wine is not a good choice.
Do not choose a wine based solely on price: While the temptation to stick to a specific price range is understandable, it is advisable not to limit your selection solely based on cost. Sometimes, the best value can be found in the mid-range section of the wine list. Fancy names = fancy prices and for those who are not well versed in the regions and producers you might be shelling out way more than you need to. Great wine doesn’t have to be expensive.
Do not order the same wines you always do: There are over 10,000 varities of grapes out there in the world. It is always exciting to discover new wines and expand your palate. This is a perfect opportunity explore unfamiliar wine varieties or regions. While it’s fine to stick to your favorite wine occasionally, take advantage of the restaurant’s selection to try something different and broaden your knowledge of the vast world of wine. Remember their goal is to make money. They are not going to have wine that is too out there or wild or for a specific narrow group of wine drinkers.
Do not be swayed by fancy descriptions: Wine can be enticing, with captivating descriptions. The marketers are trying to sell you their wine. It’s important not to choose a bottle solely based on its appearance or description. Instead, focus on the grape varietal, region, and style, ask your server if it is a good region and producer, what they like about it. Servers regularly taste the wine on the list as part of their role.
Do not request excessive decanting: Decanting is the process of pouring wine into a separate vessel to allow it to breathe and release its flavors. While this can enhance certain wines, not all wines require extensive decanting. Unless you are ordering an older or heavily sedimented wine, it is best to trust the restaurant’s expertise and allow them to handle the decanting process.
Do not rush your order: Take your time while perusing the wine list. Ordering wine should be an enjoyable process, so don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. Feel free to ask for more time if needed, and seek recommendations from the sommelier or server. Allow yourself to savor the experience of choosing the perfect wine for the occasion.
Do not be a wine snob: Ordering wine should be a pleasurable experience, not a competition to show off your knowledge. Avoid using technical terms or trying to impress others with your expertise. Instead, focus on your personal preferences and what you believe will complement your meal. Remember, the ultimate goal is to enjoy the wine and have a great dining experience.
Remember that wine should be a source of pleasure and discovery, so don’t be afraid to explore, ask questions, and trust your own taste buds. Cheers to finding that perfect bottle!
~Trina Plamondon is a professionally trained wine consultant, educator and importer located in British Columbia, Canada. Sign-up for her newsletter at www.carpavino.com to access great wines at up to 70% off retail, shipping included.