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How to order wine like a pro


You’re a grown-ass adult, so you really shouldn’t be freaked out when a waiter hands you a giant leather-bound wine list and lets you know a sommelier is available to help you select a bottle. But, even if you know your way around regions (old school wines named after where the grapes are grown, like Bordeaux) and varietals (more new school, when wines are named for the specific grapes, like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are both grown in the Bordeaux region…what?) Sometimes, those pages and pages of bottles are just scary.

FOMO? More like fear of choosing wrong. And, we get it. No one wants to be talked into something that costs half a month’s rent they don’t end up liking. That’s why we got advice from two ladies who are completely slaying the wine game — seriously, they can pick our bottles any time.


  • Ordering wine by the glass has come a long way, particularly in wine-focused bars and restaurants that offer wine on tap or go through bottles quickly. When should you order by the glass? “If you are dining alone or with a companion who does not share your taste in wine, then wines by the glass are the way to go,” says Belinda Chang, the Champagne Educator for LVMH in the U.S., James Beard Award winning sommelier, and the owner of the soon-to-open West Village Wine Collective. “If you are not dining in a super-busy restaurant and you suspect that the bottles have been open for a bit too long, do not hesitate to ask your server or bartender for a glass from a fresh bottle. A smart restaurant will have wine by the glass selections that are appropriate to the type of cuisine that they serve, and ordering by the glass is a great low-commitment way to try wines that you have not had before.”



  • “Don’t be shy about expressing your dislikes when a somm or server is helping select wine,” Voisin says emphatically. “People are very passionate about their aversions!” If you love dry whites, speak up. If you want to drink a red while eating fish — that white with fish rule? Break it! — ask what works with your meal within your price and taste parameters. Tell the server or the wine steward what you like your wine to taste like. Rich, fruity, sweet, dry, earthy — you don’t have to use fancy words. “There are a few questions that we dread, such as the very open ended and vague ‘What do you recommend,'” says Chang. “When you ask this without any context or qualifiers, you will probably not get a recommendation that works for you. It’s like telling a sales person that you need to buy a pair of shoes without giving your size, budget, color, heel height, etc.”


  • If you’ve ever lingered over a perfect glass of wine in a place and moment you’d like to recapture, try reconnecting (a little bit). “If a country where you’ve traveled is represented on a wine list, ask if there’s a wine from the city or town you stayed in,” says Voisin. “Some of my favorite moments with tables involved connecting over a simple Falanghina from the Costa d’Amalfi or Vernaccia from San Gimignano.”


  • It’s easy to feel like everything on a wine list is super-extravagant. There’s a way around this, and this is when you need to remember the sommelier is your partner in drinking — remember, it’s in their best interest for you to leave happy so you’ll visit again. “My favorite guests will say something like, ‘We have x dollars to spend on wine tonight, and we would like a glass of sparkling wine to start, a bottle of dry white to pair with the ceviche, and then a light, fruity red to enjoy with the chicken,'” says Chang. “Now that is pro wine ordering!”



***Grabbed from: