Ordering Wine in a Restaurant

Restaurant wine lists can be very confusing, especially when they are presented to you in a large, leather-bound tome containing dozens of pages! Just remember that they are merely a list of all the drinks available in that particular restaurant. After all, a wine list should not be judged by its length. A short list that has been carefully compiled is much better.

The key to successfully negotiating a heavy wine list is to ask the wine waiter for guidance. A knowledgeable sommelier will be delighted to help you chose a wine that matches your tastes. He or she may even suggest wines that go particularly well with the food you have chosen.

A few general hints that will help you order the wine that is right for you:

  • Don’t rush. Savor the experience.
  • Get the wine waiter on your side and openly ask for advice.
  • There’s no need to worry about what wine goes with what food. Most wine menus follow the traditional sequence of listing aperitifs first, main course wines next and digestifs (liqueurs) last.
  • If you’re concerned about matching the right wine with your chosen meal, use the following, very general guidelines. Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots are good, red all-rounders and Chardonnays usually come up with reliable whites.
  • If you’re still in any doubt about which wine to plump for, bear in mind that the house wines are probably a very good bet. They can also be relied upon to provide good value for money. Restaurateurs normally choose their house wines with great care and attention to detail. They appreciate that these wines reflect significantly on the general standards of their restaurants.
  • Once you’ve chosen your wine, ignore over-enthusiastic waiters who keep topping up your glasses in the hope that you’ll order more wine than you really want. Let them know that you’re quite happy to top up your own glasses, as and when you see fit!

The bottom line is: relax! Order only what you and your guests enjoy and don’t feel pressed to spend beyond your budget.

No matter what style of wine you’re serving, serve it in style. An elegant decanter is recommended for proper pouring. To keep white wines chilled at the appropriate temperature, a good bottle chiller is a must. And, of course, you should use a high quality corklifter to avoid shredding the stopper.

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