Ordering wine is one of life’s lessons that is not taught by your parents. This is something you need to figure out alone. And when you’re sitting for dinner with your boss you will wish you had read this list to help you out in this tricky situation (and maybe even impress him).
These 10 tips will help you next time the sommerlier approaches and asks you, “And what will you be ordering today?”
A Glass or a Bottle?
Depending on how many people you are at dinner will depend on whether you get glass or a bottle. If you are on a romantic date, one bottle is probably enough. It will serve 4-5 glasses which should keep you entertained throughout the meal. Don’t forget, its always better to start slow too.
If you are a work party of 3 + people, ordering more than one bottle is advisable. You can make it more interactive by suggesting that you order a different bottle for each course which can complement what you eat.
Decide What You Are Eating
The first thing to do before ordering wine is to decide what you are going to eat. This will also depend on what time of the day you are dining. If you’re having lunch, white wine is probably a better choice. White meat and fish go really well with this type of wine, so try and look for that on the menu.
The most important thing is not to rush. If the waiter offers you the menu, tell him you would like to think about it. Then let yourself decide if todays meal is going to be full bodied red and meaty, or light with chicken.
Talk to The Waiter
Waiter is actually the wrong word. If you are at a sophisticated restaurant, your wine server is called a sommerlier. These members of the staff are hired due to their extensive knowledge of wine and you should make the most of this. Ask him questions like if they have a specialized wine or if you could get a taste of a few.
If you are at a local joint where the waiter is an 18 year old college kid, you don’t want to ask them for advice on which wine to drink with your meal. Better read this list and figure it out yourself.
One of the most crucial things to the majority of us is the cost. You have to weigh up if you are willing to spend a little bit extra and get a richer experience, or you are happy to go with the house wine special. Just remember that money does equal quality in this case.
If you are on a date you definitely don’t want to seem cheap, and also want to appear as if you know the value of good wine. So why not. Go for it and order the $150 bottle from some far away French vineyard you’re not going to visit. Or maybe you will.
After talking to the sommerlier/waiter, and decided on your budget now the fun begins! Ask for 2-3 different wine options to taste with your wine buddy and have a mini wine tasting session. If you are at a first or second date it’s a great way to break the ice, or if you want to impress your boss you can show off what you learnt from this article.
When tasting wine make sure you swirl it around in the glass to ‘air’. Wine experts say let the wine breathe. This allows the flavors to really come out of the wine and ignite your taste buds. Just be careful not to spill it. Now that would be embarrassing.
Rich, Fruity, Full Bodied
When you are talking about wine you need to know the right words to use if you want to impress anyone. You can’t just ask for a red or white wine, you need to know the difference between a semi dry and dry or a full bodied or light.
As wine is made from grapes, you should aim to use the word fruity somewhere in your description. Other words you can choose from are: crisp, oaked, bright, toasty and charcoal. But remember only to use the words that match the wine, you don’t want to look like a novice trying to impress but actually embarrassing yourself.
If you are at a restaurant where the wine costs more than your meal, you should expect the service of the bottle to be excellent. Take for example white wine, it should be cool as if it has just been taken out of the fridge.
In some places, they will serve a white wine bottle with a bucket of ice. A red wine should never be cold. If it is you should insist on changing the bottle for room temperature. Don’t be afraid to speak up, after all you are paying for it.
Real wine snobs love to get their wine before their food arrives. This is because once your food arrives your main attention is on the plate, and not on the bottle. Wine lovers love to give special attention to the wine they bought, and you should ask for it to be served before the meal.
If they waiters are lazy in their service, explain to them that it’s an important part of the experience and you want them to hold back the food as you enjoy your first glass. This will really impress your date and show off your confidence in a very good light.
When your bottle of wine finally arrives you should check the label to make sure it’s the right one. 10% of the time the waiter will get it wrong, and potentially be serving you a more expensive bottle than you wanted to buy. Don’t be shy and speak up, if you don’t you will end up in an argument when it comes to the bill if not.
Once you see that the label is correct, the waiter/sommerlier will pull out the cork from the bottle. When he has poured a little into your glass you should swirl the wine and smell it. If it has rich, fruity aromas you know it’s fresh. If it smells damp and lifeless, it’s probably an opened bottle that they recorked. You have every right to ask for another bottle if this is the case.
Savor The Moment
When you are fortunate enough to buy a particularly delicious wine, you should savor it. Try not to gulp the entire glass before you even finish your starter. Firstly you will probably get drunk from it, and second just think about how much you have invested in it (both time and money) so you want to make that last as long as possible.
As well as looking very sophisticated and responsible when you drink your wine slowly, you will also notice that the flavors will enhance as the time progresses. This is the ‘breathing’ process everyone talks about and it’s definitely worth the wait.