Ordering wine might seem like a task only a connoisseur is suited for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t order and enjoy a glass with your meal. Here’s a few tips to ensure you get a good wine and excellent experience.
Nearly everyone knows by now that rules about wine were meant to be broken. Some white wines go well with meat and some reds with poultry and seafood dishes.
But it’s still important to wait until everyone has decided on a main course before selecting wine in order to get one that goes well with everything.
If you know which wine you want, order it.
- If you don’t, tell the waiter or wine steward how much you want to spend and have him or her recommend one. Then accept the recommendation gladly, knowing your chances of enjoying the wine are better than if you’d taken a shot in the dark.
- Take advantage of the wine list — not just to find a bottle to order but to point to your choice if you can’t pronounce the name. The waiter will nod knowingly and say the name perfectly. And if you still can’t pronounce it, it won’t matter. Your only job is to drink it.
- If you chose your wine off the list, check the label when the bottle comes to make sure you’re getting what you ordered. That includes the year. A 2001 might cost a lot more than the 2003 you asked for, but if you drink it, you can be charged the higher price.
- When the waiter pulls out the cork and then puts it down in front of you, you can smell it like wine connoisseurs would. But all you need to do is make sure the cork’s not moldy or decaying. If it’s moist on the bottom, that’s good; it means the wine was stored correctly. Otherwise, forget about it. It’s just a cork.
- If you ordered, you’ll get a splash in your glass to taste. Relax. It’s not a test. If the wine’s gone bad, you’ll know. First, look: you don’t want brown or cloudy. Then smell and taste. Remember, you’re not judging at a wine tasting. You just want to be sure the wine hasn’t oxidized (turned vinegary) and the cork didn’t go bad (musty taste). If it’s bad, don’t be shy about telling the server. Suggest the server taste it to confirm. Trust us, he or she won’t take it personally.
- Tell the server out loud that the wine’s okay. Something like, “Nice wine, thanks for the suggestion” will work fine. He appreciates the verbal confirmation, because it’s like a contract that you agree to pay for the bottle.