What Not To Do When Ordering Wine

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.

Sangiovese & Eggplant Parmigiana

Tuscany can be found down the western coast of central Italy. Sangiovese is the main grape in the area, its name derives from sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jove” . It ripens late in the season and needs a warm climate, which is why it works so well in Italy. Chianti is a wine that is crafted from (typically) 100% Sangiovese grapes. Look for the sign of the “gallo nero” (Italian for “black rooster”) on the bottleneck label, which certifies that the grapes are grown in Chianti Classico a region that is known for more premium wines.

Medium weight, savory, red plums, tart cherries, dried herbs and subtle tomato flavours of the Sangiovese grape are a wonderful pairing with eggplant parmigiana.

  • 3 – 4 Medium sized eggplant, 1/4 inch slices
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Basil
  • 2C Dry Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Lg Eggs
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 4C Tomato Sauce
  • 1-1/2C grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3C Shredded Mozzarella

Lay the eggplant on paper towel and sprinkle them on both sides with sea salt. Leave for 20 minutes to drain. Pat Dry.

Scatter breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. In a bowl beat eggs with a bit of salt until they are foamy. Dip slices of eggplant in the egg wash, then dip in breadcrumbs. Pat the crumbs firmly in place.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Fry eggplant slices a few at a time until they are golden brown on both sides. When all have been cooked, cover with paper towel to absorb any remaining oil. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. In a rectangular baking dish, ladle out enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of eggplant and sprinkle with 1/2C of the Parmigiana Reggiano and 1C of the mozzarella. Add a second layer of eggplant, cover with tomato sauce, add two cheeses. Continue with additional layers. Finish off with remaining tomato sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for about one hour. Let sit for 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle a bit of Parmigiana Reggiano on the top and add a sprig of fresh basil.

Trina Plamondon is the Founder of Carpa Vino, a local company in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that offers private wine events & charity events, wine education & consultation. Join the exclusive tasting club for those who like to explore the world of wine.   www.carpavino.com

Give Thanks ~ Ossobuco & Nebbiolo

It is that time of year in Canada where we gather with friends, family and loved ones to give thanks and share an autumn meal. This is one of my favourite celebrations, with harvest bursting at the seams, a bounty of good food, and especially the root vegetables by the bucket full.

Somewhere in between being a vegetarian and a meatatarian, I became disenchanted with tired of the traditional turkey meal for holidays. Now, I like to celebrate occasions with a meal that feels truly special. Using the extra time I linger over food preparation, enjoy the process, obsess over details and honour my guests with a meal that has been put together with thought, care, attention and so much love.

The following recipe is a delight, surprisingly simple and what better way than to pair it with an Italian wine!

The Nebbiolo grape is from the Piedmont region in NE Italy. Nebbiolo derives from the Italian wine “Nebbia” meaning fog. This refers to the fog that hangs around the hills around Alba during harvest time. The grape has been documented back to the 13th century and is high tannins and a concentration of acids that make it long lived. This means you have to leave that “wild horse” in the stable for a few years to calm it down an make it approachable. Once it has had some time in the bottle, it has a wonderful complexity that combines dried red fruits, leather, sour cherries, truffles, mushrooms, roses, and earthy elements like herbs and tar. Do not let all this scare you away, it all comes together in a wonderful fashion and will not disappoint. The best examples are the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. Barolo DOCG must be aged for three years, with at least 18 months of that in oak, combined this with the region and the end result is dreamy like a old movie star of years gone by.


  • 6 (300g) Veal Shanks
  • 1/4c seasoned flour
  • 2tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4c olive oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1-1/4c Nebbiolo
  • 1-1/2c canned plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1c beef broth
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  1. Make the “Gremolata” It is a mixture of parsley, garlic and lemon zest. It is added just before serving. Be sure to finely chop everything. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Dust the veal shanks with the seasoned flour. Make sure not to leave excess flour.
  3. In a heavy casserole dish (or dutch oven if you have one) melt butter, add oil and brown the shanks until they are browned on all sides. (do a few at a time depending on the size of your dish)
  4. Put the shanks aside.
  5. In the dish add onion and cook them until they are softened. Add wine and bring to a boil. Ensure you scrape all the bits of browned shank that cling to the pan. Boil gently for 2 – 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in tomatoes, and beef broth. Add veal shanks and ensure that all sides have been coated in the sauce. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a slow, gentle boil, cover and let cook gently for 1.5 – 2 hours. (Or until veal is tender and sauce has thickened) Add a little water or wine if necessary, checking the meat from time to time.
  7. Once sauce has thickened, and meat is throughly cooked, adjust seasoning to your taste.
  8. Sprinkle the gremolata over the ossobuco just before serving.

~Trina Plamondon is the founder of Carpa Vino, a local company specializing in private wine events, wine consultation & wine education. In her blog she helps others discover the magic in wines.

Harvest Season Food & Wine

Photo by Madison Inouye

A prairie girl at heart, I love harvest season. The colors of the fields, the trees, the leaves. The signal that the page is turning and a new chapter is about to begin. Some of my best memories from this time of year are friends sharing the bounty from their gardens. Soups, stews, carrot and zucchini cake and of course for those who have had the pleasure “Janice Pie”, with fresh whipped cream. The true sign that fall had arrived is corn by the sack.

What’s better than a bit of prairie corn from Taber, AB and a glass of Chardonnay? Match the weight of your food with the weight of your wine. Take the strongest flavour on your plate and match your wine to that flavour.

Photo by Laker

Herbs & spices that play nice with Chardonnay are garlic, marjoram, cinnamon, rosemary, saffron, thyme & tarragon.

Chardonnay is a an unusual grape because it does well in a variety of climates from cool to hot. Much like us, the final taste and feel of the wine depends a great deal on where it was grown. Flavours can range from green apples or pear in cool climates to peach with a bit of citrus or a hint of melon to more tropical fruits in warmer climates with flavours of pineapple, star fruit, and banana. One of the places that makes one of the best examples of what Chardonnay should be is Montrachet or Mersault. A wonderful medium style can be found in British Columbia and Ontario, with Soave being a “like Chardonnay” choice to try something new.

A wonderful harvest pairing is sweet corn & pepper chowder.

Sweet Corn & Pepper Chowder


  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 2 Sweet (not hot) peppers seeded & diced
  • Scallions, trimmed & chopped to taste
  • 4 Cups fresh corn removed from the cob
  • 3 Cups of cream
  • 2 1/2 C of Chicken Broth (bone broth gives the best flavour) (Or Vegetable for vegetarian Chowder)
  • 2C Diced potatoes
  • 1/2 Chopped Chervil or Parsley


  1. In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat, being careful not to burn it. Add peppers and onions, sautéing until they tender. (4 – 6 min). Put aside.
  2. Using a blender or a food processer , blend 2 cups of cream and 2 cups of the corn until it is mostly smooth. Add pepper/onion mixture until just blended. (Do not over blend)
  3. Pour everything from the mixer into the soup pot, add broth. Add potatoes remaining corn and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook gently until the corn and potatoes are tender. (About 10- 12 Min).
  4. Add remaining cream, salt and pepper and simmer gently until it is heated all the way through. Just before serving stir in chevril or parsley.
  5. Serve with a dark rye bread or pumpernickel with butter.

Carpa Vino – Wine Divergence

Issue One – Summer 2022

Click here to read

It is with much enthusiasm & pride I release the first issue of Carpa Vino! I wanted to create a BC magazine that presented primarily wine and a bit of cider & spirits through culture. Wine is a global product produced around the world and each region, area and place presents itself in a unique way through its glorious juice. How we experience it is shaped by our experiences. Enjoy!