Ordering wine in a restaurant can be daunting even to those who drink it at home. Knowing what to look for when choosing a wine lets you navigate the process easily.
Large wine menus are overwhelming. If you already know whether you prefer red or white wine, you can eliminate many options. Your food selection should also impact your choice. Generally, choose a white wine for light entrees like chicken or fish, and a red wine for heavier foods such as steak.
Ordering by the bottle is often more cost effective if multiple diners are having wine. If you are undecided, ordering by the glass lets you sample your options. Also consider ordering by the glass if one type of wine will not compliment everyone’s meals. The list of wines available by the glass is usually smaller than the overall menu.
Wine menus in restaurants are usually organized by type of wine or region and listed by price range from lowest to highest. The vintage (year) being included on the menu is a sign that the list is updated regularly.
Some restaurants have a sommelier dedicated to serving wine. Ask for recommendations, but do not be pressured into choosing higher-priced wines or a reserve wine unless someone in your party feels knowledgeable about your selection.
When ordering by the bottle, sampling and accepting your choice is part of the ritual of ordering wine. When you receive the bottle, verify that the label matches your choice. The cork should generally be a bit wet. Smell the wine after it is poured, looking for scents of the fruit used in the wine rather than a dank or musty odor.