Wine Etiquette: How to Order Wine at a Restaurant

Wine Etiquette: How to Order Wine at a Restaurant

Ordering a nice wine at a restaurant may seem to be a daunting task. Many newbies to wine are often intimidated with a long wine list and pricey bottles of unfamiliar names. However, you’re not alone when it comes to choosing wine, and ordering a glass or bottle at a fancy restaurant doesn’t have to be embarrassing.

Your waiter, or the wine steward (sometimes known as the sommelier) is an educated individual that can help you choose a wine that will compliment your meal. Because wine and food should pair nicely, it is always a good idea to know what you plan on ordering before asking about a wine. Knowing what wines you do like is also a great way to help the wine steward determine a wine you may enjoy. Mention wines that you tend to gravitate towards, the distinct flavors that draw you into a nice glass of wine, and what you intend on ordering to get the best recommendations. If you are buying a bottle for the table, consider what others are ordering to purchase a bottle that everyone can share and enjoy with their meals.

When the sommelier recommends a wine, it is often not the only wine that you could enjoy. Sometimes they may recommend a pricier wine than what you can afford. It is not at all rude to ask the sommelier for recommendations in various price ranges in order to allow you to have the opportunity to choose what fits best for your evening’s budget. Don’t feel intimidated and required to choose what they suggest.

The bottle of wine will arrive at the table, and the waiter will show the label before opening to allow you the chance to double-check that it is indeed the wine that you ordered. The wine steward will then uncork the bottle and pour a small amount for you to taste and try. Do not be afraid to turn away a bottle of wine if it does not meet your expectations. This is especially true when you are footing out a large sum of money to enjoy your evening with a wine you like.

It is always a good idea to tip your sommelier generously if they have truly assisted you in finding and discovering a new wine that you thoroughly enjoyed with your meal. A common rule is to tip approximately 10% to 20% of the price of the wine to the sommelier.

Next time you’re out to eat and worried about ordering wine, keep these tips in mind to have a smooth transition from newbie to restaurant wine enthusiast!

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