tips to order wine
  • | October 4, 2016
Being able to order wine in a restaurant is a sophisticated skill that doesn’t require you to be a sommelier. Those are those professional wine guys in fancy restaurants that wear cups around their necks.

With a little practice and the added bonus of getting to drink while studying, learning the basics of wine is a snap. Whether you know a thing or two about wine or are completely new to the area, here are 6 tips on how to order wine to get you started.

  1. Know Your Whites. White wines tend to be lighter than reds and are most often paired with lighter foods such as salads, cheeses, or appetizers. If you’re dining with a group and/or planning on ordering more than one type of wine, it is usually a safe bet to order your white first. Some common white wines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio

  2. Know your Reds. If white wine goes with lighter foods, then it stands to reason that red wines go with heavier foods, right? Reds are typically paired with red meats, heavy pasta dishes, or anything with a thick sauce. Some common red wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir

  3. Never order the “house wine.” It may sound like the “house wine” is the recommended, very best, favorite wine in the house but the opposite tends to be true. The “house wine” is typically the cheapest stuff the restaurant has and is there for people who just want wine and don’t care much more than that.

  4. Don’t be afraid of inexpensive wine. Wine is not all about the price and there are plenty of good wines that cost $40 or $50 a bottle as opposed to $500. When looking at the wine list it’s okay to look in this price range. You don’t need to break the bank to find an enjoyable wine.

  5. Know the process. It may seem a bit snooty but if you’re in a fancy restaurant you’ll be expected to go through this process. When you order a wine your waiter or sommelier will show you the bottle and present the label to you. This is when you nod as if to say “ah, yes, that’s what I wanted.” They will then uncork the wine and pour a small amount in your glass. Do not gulp. Allow it a moment “to breathe” and swirl it gently in the glass before taking a small sip. Assuming it’s good, place your glass back on the table and nod for them to finish filling your glass.

  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People who know wine: know wine. They also know when someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about is trying to sound like they do. If you’re worried about looking foolish, don’t be. There are people who have forgotten more about 1973 California Cabernet than you’ll ever know about wine in general. Your waiter or sommelier is there to help guide you so asking for a recommendation is encouraged.

Enjoying and learning about wine can be a fun hobby and an enjoyable way to spice up your dining experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try different things. In the end, finding a wine you like is the most important thing so enjoy the journey. Follow these 6 tips and you’ll be on your way to knowing how to order wine in no time.

Good luck.