How To Order Wine At Restaurants
by Michael S Hutchins
You're out to dinner with your friends at a nice restaurant, and all of a sudden it's time to order the wine. Because your friends know that you have some knowledge about wine, you feel the anxious gaze of several pairs of eyes upon you. Have no fear! Using some basic knowledge, and a healthy dose of common sense, you'll come out looking like a pro.
The key to you being successful "under pressure" is preparedness. First of all, engage in a conversation with your friends about what kinds of wines they generally prefer. Keep your choices simple. For example, do they prefer red or white wine? Sweet or dry wines?etc.What you'll probably find out is that your friends will have mixed answers and preferences. That's o.k., you can order two bottles of wine that most closely correspond to the aggregate of your friend's preferences. Next, ask what entrees your friends are having. While you don't have to stick to the traditional "rule of thumb" of having white wine with poultry and fish, and red wine with beef and pork, you'll probably end up ordering one bottle of white wine and one bottle of red wine to be on the safe side.
Your wine steward is always a great asset when ordering wine at restaurants. Because you prepared yourself with your friend's entree choices and general wine preferences, you can now relay that info to your wine steward. Be sure to also let your steward know what price range you're interested in paying. When discussing your wine selections with the steward, try to translate your friend's preferences into terms that describe wines. Terms such as "semi-sweet", or "fruity", for example better enable the steward to make suggestions that are appropriate for your group. Other terms to use are "dry" or "citrus." You don't have to know every term in the book, however a few key terms are helpful.
So now you've ordered, but you're not out of the "woods" yet. When the wine arrives, you'll be expected to sample it and make sure it's ok. When the steward presents the wine to be sampled, hold your glass at a comfortable level and swish the wine up the sides of the glass. This helps to release the aromas. Make sure that the wine isn't "corked." While rare, "corked" wine happens and needs to be replaced.
Take a small amount of wine and move it over your entire tongue so that all your taste buds come in contact with it. The trick to tasting wine is to help the aromas of the wine to enter your nasal passageway at the rear of the throat.
If the wine is satisfactory, nod to the steward approvingly. Your friends will then be served. At this point, you're sure to be a "hero" with your friends! Nothing enhances a good meal like an appropriate wine. And remember, when in doubt ask the steward for advice, they are professionals.