D o you dread ordering wine in a swish restaurant? Does the sommelier overawe you? Here are some techniques to put you back in charge and help you tame your sommelier.
We go to restaurants for many reasons - to celebrate, to host business colleagues, seduce a date - we rarely go 'just to eat'. So the occasion is already stressful for the host without having the added strain of ordering wine. If you are not fully confident with wine ordering, here are some approaches.
1) When the wine list is presented, wave it away and say 'we'll have (1-2 bottles of the house red/white'.) This is an excellent approach for almost every occasion, other than a gourmet wine night! In a business context you'll appear decisive, unconcerned with trifles and economical with money. In all circumstances the house wine should be a good choice. The restaurant has chosen that wine to represent itself and to match its food.
2) Another approach is to use the sommelier as your consultant. Ask the sommelier to choose for you - you'll have to say what your preferences are. Do you want red or white, sweet, medium or dry? Rather than speak out loud your price limit, you could check the wine list for an appropriately priced wine and hold the list so the sommelier can see you point to the price. You can murmur 'something like this' or some such phrase that will let sommelier know your price target. The sommelier should be an expert, and will know the wine list better than anyone. So use him or her.
3) Alternatively, if you have a wine lover in our party, delegate the choice to them. Ask them to choose wine for the table that everyone will enjoy. In a business environment that shows your ability to delegate and you never need admit you don't know anything about wine. And for all occasions the wine lovers present will be happy
Lastly, if you decide to pick one from the wine list, note that restaurants usually place the wines they are trying to get rid of as the second cheapest in its category. Many people do not want to spend a lot on wine and are too embarrassed to pick the cheapest one, so these ones are often chosen.
Once you have ordered you have face the ordeal of the restaurant wine ritual. What do you do with that cork? To read how to keep the sommelier tame when the wine is brought to the table click here.
If you have been, thanks for reading.
© Copyright Peter May 2002.