Restaurant wine can be a tricky thing to navigate if it’s not something you do frequently. I admit to being overwhelmed in the past when presented with an extensive list. The good news is that more restaurants have been opting for shorter wine selections to make it easier and quicker. We all know the consequences of the wrong food and wine pairing. It can easily turn a fantastic meal into a disappointing experience.
This is exactly why I wanted to give you a few tips for selecting the right wine from a restaurant menu.
Don’t Rush Into Restaurant Wine
Take your time browsing through the wine list and get a feel for the variety of wine available. Think about the type of wine that you’re in the mood for. You must also take into account the meal you want to order. They key is, don’t rush this important part of the dining process.
Ease Into the Richer Wines
Often people will order a nice rich red wine to start their meal. This is actually the exact way to ruin your appetite! A heavy Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon will change the ambiance of your meal and possibly your entire dining experience. Focus on ordering something light and crisp. Most chefs will serve light courses at the beginning of your meal anyway so pair it with a crisp white wine for the first course.
Dive Into a Bottle
If you’re dining at a nice restaurant anyway, you may as well splurge a bit. After sampling, go for the bottle of wine rather than opting for the “by the glass” option. There are several reasons for this. For starters, by the glass options don’t usually have the same quality as bottled wine. Additionally, if you’re dining with partners, ordering a bottle of wine is just smart spending. Restaurants often markup wine prices especially when serving it by the glass. In some cases, restaurant wine markup can be as high as 300 percent.
Read the Tasting Notes
Most modern wine selection lists will feature tasting notes for each offering. Using these guidelines to choose your wine preference will help tremendously. If you’re still having trouble deciding which wine you would like, try using a wine app. Wine apps like VinCellar have search options with a database of thousands of wines. Included with each wine is a description, critic scores, and tasting notes. It will show tasting notes by professionals and peers so you can find something that will closely match your preference.
Talk to the Experts
It’s the sommelier’s job to help find the right wine for you so don’t feel like you’re a bother. This is what they are trained to do. They can only help but so much, however, if you have no clue what you want. Try to have an idea about your meal plans and your usual wine preference. The sommelier can help you navigate the wine list and point out options that will delight you.
With these simple tips, you can turn a seemingly complicated process into an enjoyable memory. The next time you’re faced with selecting a restaurant wine, you’ll be ready to make the best food and wine pairing possible.