Ordering wine in a restaurant-the correct way. - Recipesupermart

Ordering wine in a restaurant-the correct way.

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So you are at your favourite restaurant and out comes the intimidating, wine list, which can range from a single page featuring a handful of wines broken out by color to a full leather-bound book of wine options with a selection of wines from all over the world with equally varied price tags. How do you go about ordering wine for your table? First, remember that the trained wait staff or Sommelier is there to help and not hinder. Most restaurants that offer decent wine lists will also offer decent training for their servers. Ask which wines are their best sellers, which wines will partner well with the entrees you are leaning towards and ultimately which wines are in your price range?

The Wine List – What’s included

A well-written wine list will include the wine’s producer and country of origin, the vintage, specific varietal tasting notes and offer suggestions for ideal food pairings. Get a feel for everyone’s wine preferences – white or red, sweet or dry and what types of food people will be ordering. If there are votes for both whites and reds, consider a palatable compromise – leaning towards a heavy white, like an oak-filled Chardonnay or a lighter red, a Pinot Noir or even a light-bodied Merlot. Or go crazy and order one of each. Keep in mind that a typical bottle of wine (750 ml) should serve 3 people enjoying in moderation. On a linguistic note, if you are uncertain of a wine’s pronunciation, and don’t want to go out on a limb, refer to the bin number if available or point to the selection and wait for your server to do the honors – it happens all the time.

The Decision Is Made, Now What?

Buckle up, the winning wine is on its way. First things first, the server should show you the unopened wine’s label so that you can verify that the wine that has arrived is in fact the wine you ordered. Check the varietal, vintage and producer. After the wine label checks out the server will open the bottle and present you with the cork. Now what? No need to smell it, like Hollywood advocates – but do take a look at the end to make sure it hasn’t crumbled (an indication that it may have been stored improperly) and see that the cork is not dried out or cracked throughout. Next the server will pour a small sample for you to taste. Begin by observing the wine’s colour and clarity. Is it cloudy or brownish in colour? Only very old vintages should have this appearance. Now give the wine a good sniff. Do you smell any vinegar (sign of oxidation) or musty cork (sign of faulty cork) smells? Taste the sample, is it in good condition, free of any apparent oxidation or “corked” flavours? If so, tell your server that it is a keeper and he/she will pour the selection for the table. Quick tip – this process from label check to tasting check should only take about 30 seconds.

A great wine can bring a whole new dimension to your dining experience. Ordering the wine should be just as enjoyable as drinking it. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are holding the leather-bound list and you will be well on your way to making an informed decision in selecting and enjoying the winning wine(s) to join your table.

No one likes to feel like a dope when staring down a wine list. So here’s a cheat sheet on how to avoid embarrassment, culled from the collective wisdom of sommeliers and other wine professionals.

Before the Restaurant

1. If you’re really worried about looking like an idiot, plan ahead. Most restaurants post their menus and wine lists online, and even if they don’t, you can call the day before and ask for advice. If you’re really concerned about screwing up, pre-order right then and there on the phone. Very few people know this is even an option.

When Ordering

If you’re shy, just point to a bottle on the menu and say you’d like something similar.

2. It’s OK to mention a price range. Really. You don’t have to be a big shot and demand the priciest thing on the wine list. (This particular wisdom is courtesy of Derek Todd, owner of artisanal shop Wine Geeks in Armonk, New York, and former wine director at Blue Hills at Stone Barns—which has some pretty pricey bottles of vino). It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’d like to spend $75 and I’d like a Cabernet.” If you’re shy, just point to a bottle on the menu and say you’d like something similar. The server will get the message.

3. Bring it all back to the food “Context is all,” Evan Spingarn, the fabulously opinionated wine director at New York’s Tangled Vine, warned. “The $100 Cabernet that was life-affirming on Tuesday night at the steakhouse may be appallingly bad at the beach with clam rolls on Saturday. Therefore, ordering wine by price, scores, or familiar names is never as successful as selecting by what you plan to eat with it.”

4. And be specific. “Never, EVER, walk into a wine store or restaurant and ask for ‘…a nice, dry red wine,'” Spingarn scolds. “It’s the same as walking into a grocery store and saying: ‘Excuse me, do you have any FOOD?'” In other words, it’s too general, too open-ended. Be as specific as you can. The more info you can provide a sommelier or wine merchant, the better that person can help you find something great to drink.

Once the Wine Arrives

5. Don’t sniff the cork It won’t tell you much, and you’ll look like a pretentious jerk. However, if you’ve ordered an older vintage, it’s acceptable to pick up and look at the cork for possible signs of damage that might impact the wine’s quality.

6. Swirl the wine a couple of seconds. Not longer. The goal is to aerate the wine a bit—not to slosh it around and show off. Didn’t anyone tell you not to play with your food?

7. You can’t send back a wine just because you don’t like it. It’s only OK to return wine if you’re certain it’s spoiled. (If you don’t know how to tell, Wine.com has a good, straightforward guide to spotting wine that has gone bad.

8. Don’t be afraid to order more than one wine. That can mean a couple of bottles for the table, or a couple of glasses for yourself. “Particularly in restaurants that have substantial by-the-glass programs,” says Spingarn, “it’s fun and cost-effective to order a glass of sparkling wine or white to start a meal, split a bottle of red (or whatever you prefer with the food) for your entree, and finish off with a little something sweet or fortified for dessert.”

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