How to order wine like a pro in a restaurant.

So I recently read a great article in Food and Wine magazine called \"20 tips for ordering wine\". Definitely check it out! But it got me thinking about my old restaurant days and the sorts of cues that used to let us know that the person on the other side of the wine list didn\'t have a clue what he was doing. Here are some tips on how to order wine in a restaurant that will help you (and your Sommelier) get the right sort of wine in your glass!

1. Learn your wine terminology. This is a big one! It\'s incredibly hard for your sommelier to recommend a wine you will like if you don\'t know how to describe what you are looking for. Learn how to describe the kind of wine you are looking for with terms like tannic, acidic, big, rich, fruity, earthy or light. To learn these terms and what they mean, check out my earlier blog entry called \"Learn your wine tasting terminology!\". One term to avoid in a restaurant, however, is \"dry\". Unless you are looking for a Riesling or another grape that is frequently made in a sweeter style, \"dry\" is really a useless descriptor, since most wines are dry.

2. Avoid sniffing the cork. It just smells like a cork. Whenever I see someone sniffing the cork before grinning and exclaiming \"Excellent!\", all I take away is, \"I\'m a little pretentious!\". Now I may get into trouble for this one, I have known some experts who claim that you can detect some faults by smelling the cork (I can\'t), but in my opinion, it is always better and easier to smell the wine itself. You\'re drinking the wine afterall, not the cork! To make sure the bottle of wine you ordered is satisfactory, smell your glass or take a sip. Look for traces of old, wet cardboard, wet dog, and all things dank. This could be TCA taint, also known as \"corked wine\", which occurs in around 7% of all wines with corks according to a 2005 study. If you have a bad wine, send it back with confidence! Although, don\'t be the guy that sends back bottle after bottle because he doesn\'t like the wine! Nobody likes that guy.

3. Be open to trying something new. A lot of the better bottles of wine that I have encountered in restaurants were not picked out by me. I love asking the sommelier for their recommendations, especially if you trust her palate. As long as you didn\'t have your heart set on a specific wine, ask your somm what they are excited about, what they recommend, or what they are drinking at home now. You might get some nerdy stuff, but they will definitely be interesting! There are too many amazing wines out there to just drink Chardonnays and Cabernets every night!

4. If getting a recommendation, let your sommelier know the price you are looking to spend that night. I always appreciated knowing my customers price range, it helps to narrow down the wine list, and I didn\'t have to worry about shocking someone by suggesting a $500 wine or insulting another by suggesting a $20 one. Don\'t let your somm bully you into spending more than you want either. I used to really enjoy the challenge of trying to find a good wine at a lower price that fit the flavor profile of what my guests were looking for!

5. Always tip 20% on your wine purchase, unless you are given bad service. I have read a number of articles concerning how much to tip on wine with some experts saying 10% and others 15%, but the fact is that odds are your server or sommelier is probably expecting 20%. I have actually received tips where the guest showed their math on the receipt, with 20% for the food and 10% for the wine. It just makes them look cheap. I\'ve also heard a lot of people asking about how much is appropriate to tip on an expensive bottle of wine. I still expect 20%. If you can afford to buy a $1000 bottle of wine, you can afford to tip on it. Keep in mind most servers tip out their support staff based on their sales, not their tips! If you tip low on a very expensive bottle, your server could potentially lose money!

Hopefully this gives you a little bit of an insider\'s view of wine service in restaurants. If you follow these steps, you will look like you know what you are doing, find a wine you will like better, maybe try something new, and everyone will be happy!

Until next time, happy drinking!
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Tuesday, 25 February 2020