How To Master Any Wine List

The scene is set. You find yourself at a candlelit table in a charming restaurant, ready to embark on a sensory adventure through the world of food and wine.

Then, the wine list arrives.

You flip through the pages as the paradox of choice settles in. You don’t want to choose the wrong wine, but you’re not quite sure what the “right” wine is either. The sommelier returns and you panic, pointing to a random bottle on the list and hoping for the best.

Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or an enthusiastic novice, navigating the intricaciesof tasting and ordering at a restaurant can be overwhelming.But with a little know-how (and a bit of confidence) you’ll be able to master any wine list, even if you don’t recognize a single thing on it.

How To Order

Know What You Like: This might seem like a no-brainer, but understanding your preferences can make a huge difference when you’re trying to narrow down your top options. Do you like your wine dry or sweet? Red, white, or rosé? Full-bodied or light? Are you someone who enjoys the adventure of trying something new or do you like to know exactly what to expect from a situation? Take a moment before you arrive to consider your answers and let them be your foundation for what comes next.

Establish Your Budget: There are excellent wines available at every price point. And since wine prices at restaurants can vary significantly, defining a comfortable budget range before ordering is essential. If you’re uncertain about the prices or they aren’t listed, don’t hesitate to ask your sommelier for suggestions within your range. Remember, you’re not going to enjoy an expensive bottle if you’re overwhelmed by how much it costs.

Study the Wine List: When handed the wine list, don’t panic. Take your time to peruse the offerings, paying special attention to the grape varieties, regions, and descriptions. Try to narrow down a short list of 2-4 wines that align with your preferences or pique your curiosity.

Consider Food Pairings: If you’ve already decided on your food order, consider which of your short-listed wines might compliment your chosen dishes. Generally, white wines pair well with seafood, poultry, and lighter fare, while red wines enhance red meat and heartier dishes. However, feel free to explore unconventional pairings based on your personal tastes. (Shellfish and Syrah make a deliciouscombination).

Seek Expertise: The easiest trick when you’re not sure what to order is talk to the people who do. Restaurant staff, particularly sommeliers, are there to guide you through the wine selection process. So don’t be afraid or embarrassed to seek their expertise. Share your preferences, price range, and any food pairing considerations you have. They’ll offer valuable insights you won’t find on the list and can suggest wines that will complement your meal perfectly.

Trust Your Instincts& Be Brave: Chances are, you probably know more than you think you do. So trust yourself and have a little fun! Restaurants offer a diverse range of wines from various regions and producers. So maybe you want to use this as an opportunity to expand your palate, sample a different style of wine or grape variety you haven’t tried before, or explore lesser-known regions or local favorites. Whatever your mood, each experience will expand your knowledge and enhance your appreciation.

How To Taste

Engage Your Senses: Finally, you’ve made your selection and you’re ready to taste!When your wine is presented, observe the color, clarity, and viscosity. Gently swirl the wine in your glass to release the aromas and take a pause to inhale and see if you can identify any distinct scents. Finally, savor a small sip, allowing the flavors to coat and unfold on your palate. Take note of any unique characteristics like fruitiness, acidity, tannins, or sweetness. Engage your sommelier and companions for their impressions as well.

Savor the Moment: Now to the good part. Savor the aromas, appreciate the flavors, and revel in the pleasure of the wine you’ve chosen. Let go of any lingering doubts and immerse yourself in the present moment, allowing the wine to transport you to new realms of flavor and sensation.

Take Note: As you grow along your wine journey consider keeping a journal to document your favorite wines, tasting notes, and food pairings. This personal record can provide a valuable resource in the future, helping you remember wines you’ve enjoyed and making future ordering decisions easier.

Remember, the joy of wine is boundless. It lies not only in the tasting, but in the exploration, debates, and discoveries hidden in each bottle. So take that list with confidence and let the adventure begin.

And if you really want to order wine like a pro check out my Online Wine Course featuring over 60 high-quality videos, 16 quizzes, and a comprehensive final exam to test your knowledge: