Wine Dining Tips or Looking Good in Front of Your Boss

Last week I met a woman who was 22-23 years old and got really excited when she learned I was a winemaker. She thought wine was really cool, but always felt intimidated by the whole procedure/tradition/ritual of ordering wine at a restaurant, especially when she was dining with someone important.

So, I gave her these quick tips and she felt immediately better and knew she could make a good go/show of ordering wine at a nice restaurant. She actually wrote them down. Figuring she wasn’t the only one who could find these tips helpful I thought I would lay them out here.

  • Wine menus should go from light and sweet at the top, to dark and dry at the bottom.
    1. Pick the extremes in your head and then figure out where you are on that line and look at that area on the menu.
    2. This also means whites are normally on top and reds on bottom, but there are often reds that are lighter and sweeter in taste than some white.
  • Don’t order the second cheapest glass or bottle on the menu.
    1. Most people don’t what to seem cheap, so they pick the second least expensive, and restaurants know this.
    2. This item often has the highest markup or the wine the restaurant is trying to get rid of.
  • When you need to buy a bottle that will work for everyone, have no clue what it should be, but know how much you can spend.
    1. Simply ask the waiter/sommelier/wine steward for some help selecting a bottle for the table.
    2. And say “I’m looking for something like this” while showing the waiter the price you are willing to pay by pointing to it on the menu.
      • You can totally be sneaky about this and none of your table mates need know.
  • When the bottle comes to the table and the waiter pours hands you the cork and pours you a small glass this is what you do
    1. Gently swirl the glass.
    2. Smell and taste it, looking for either the smell of wet cardboard or wet dog.
  1. If it doesn’t smell like either of those, simply give a nod to the waiter, and they will pour for the rest of those at the table.
  • If you order a glass of wine are don’t like it after a sip or two.
    1. Simply tell the waiter “I’m not enjoying this wine”
    2. They should either:
      • Offer to pour you a new glass of the same wine from a new bottle.
      • Offer you a different glass of wine.
      • Offer to take it off the bill and get you some other type of drink.
    3. Either way, their goal is for you to enjoy your experience, so let them help.
    4. If your table mates try and tell you it’s a wonderful wine and you should like it, just remember the 1 rule of wine, “Drink what you like.”, and don’t let them push you around.

With these 5 little tips you can look like an experience wine drinker/orderer/ sophisticated diner.



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