Ordering wine at a restaurant often creates unnecessary angst.
Especially when the wine list is the size of a phone book (for those of you old enough to remember them) and the sommelier is a little pretentious.
Now thankfully there are so many fabulous, super-casual sommeliers out there. BUT on the rare chance you get the snotty old buggers whose mission in life is to make you feel stupid about wine, read on because we’ve got you covered.
Because you have bigger things to worry about — especially if you are on a first date and you plan to score later on.
Now, many restaurants have their wine lists online so you can do some homework before you go.
But if you don’t have the time to scout it out, you have to lean on the sommelier. So don’t be afraid to ask questions.
And don’t ever let them make you feel like your uneducated or ill-informed. And if they do, just make fun of their ascots.
So here are 5 things to do to get that bottle on the table quickly so you can focus on your date.
1. Order Bubbly First.
When you get to the restaurant, order a glass of bubbly — Champagne, Prosecco, or Cava. It’s impressive and it’s the perfect way to start dinner, albeit a first date, girls’ night out, or just you eating solo at the bar to get away from it all. Plus, it’s the perfect relaxer.
And the bonus? You just bought yourself some time to meander through the wine list. Now don’t make this complicated — you’re out to have a good time.
2. Throw out Some Favorites.
Once you’re scanned the list, ask the sommelier to help. That’s what they’re there for. Now many somms will ask you to describe what you like. But try to stay away from the lingo — like fruit-forward, dry, or full-bodied — unless you really know. Those words can mean different things to different people. Instead, just give your sommelier an example of your favorite bottle. Then she’ll know in an instance what you think. In addition, if you want the wine to pair with your food then definitely mention what you are eating.
3. Point to a Price.
If you have a price point in mind and don’t want your date to know, casually point to a price on the wine list, show your somm and say you’re thinking of something in that area. This will help lead the her in the right direction. And price doesn’t matter so don’t ever be embarrassed. There are great bottles at all price-points and a good sommelier will find them for you.
4. Be Adventurous.
Now that your somm knows your taste preferences and price range, why not allow her to make suggestions? There are tons of great undiscovered value wines popping up on wine lists everywhere. And you certainly will get more bang for your buck if you stay away from the uber popular wines, like Napa Cabernets, Chardonnays and French Bordeauxs. They are almost always overpriced on a wine list.
5. Taste Together.
When the sommelier brings the wine you’ve chosen, she’ll present it to you. So look at the label and make sure its what you ordered.
She’ll put the cork on the table in front of you – don’t worry so much about that – but when she pours a little in your glass to taste, make sure your date or partner gets a little too. Why not?
If you don’t — send it back and try again.
It’s that simple. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes you didn’t like. Same principle holds for wine.
Remember here are no rules in wine anymore. So just get out there, drink and enjoy.
Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for Foxnews.com, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip.