Whether you are on a first date in a ritzy restaurant near your luxurious UDR apartment or having drinks with clients in an unfamiliar city, it is important to sound knowledgeable when ordering wine. You don’t need to be a member of the Sommelier Society of America to order like a sommelier. Follow these steps and you’ll be sure to impress.
Don’t order the house wine.
Unless you are traveling through Italy, the house wine is typically the worst drink on the menu. Any connoisseur knows this.
Learn the lingo.
The average person knows that “bouquet” refers to the pleasant aroma of a wine. Beyond that, do you know what words to use to describe your likes and dislikes when it comes to the flavor and balance of the bottle? Take the time to learn the lingo. This gives you credibility when ordering.
Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations.
Wine lists aren’t always an easy read. If you are unsure what to order, first narrow down your selection to a certain type, such as chardonnay or pinot grigio. You can then ask your sommelier for a recommendation, since he or she should be intimately familiar with the restaurant’s offerings. As long as you understand the terminology and can clearly communicate your preferences, the conversation will sound as if between peers.
Respect the presentation.
Nothing makes you look like you don’t belong in a fine dining establishment more so than not participating in the presentation correctly. It is a time-honored tradition that should be respected.
- Check the label when the waiter brings the bottle to your table, verifying it is correct.
- Never smell the cork.
- Look at the cork—a wet cork indicates that the wine has been properly stored.
- Swirl the small amount poured in your glass.
- Put your entire nose in the glass to smell the aroma.
- Nod your head to accept the bottle if the bouquet is pleasant.
- Refuse the bottle or glass if it smells musty.
Thank the waiter.
When the sommelier or waiter returns to your table, be sure to thank him. If asked how you enjoyed the beverage, you can simply say it was “varietally correct,” meaning it was very well made or it was “ponderous” if there was too much going on and you didn’t like it.