Ordering Wine

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Don’t Make These 6 Common Mistakes When Ordering Wine

Convince everyone you’re a wine expert by avoiding these embarrassing mistakes

Ordering wine in a restaurant can be a total nightmare. Unless you’re a wine expert who knows exactly what you’re doing, can actually decipher some meaning from the wine list, and knows what to do when given a sip of the wine to taste, this part of your meal tends to be stressful and overwhelming. Make sure you order with confidence and avoid embarrassing yourself by not making these six common mistakes.

Avoid the Second-Cheapest Wine

So many people spend a few minutes perusing the wine list, realize they know nothing about what they’re looking at, and so opt for the second cheapest bottle on the menu. The cheapest wine is regularly avoided not because it’s necessarily bad, but because the person ordering doesn’t want to appear cheap. Don’t be afraid to order the cheapest wine, if that’s what you want. Otherwise, we recommend you ask your waiter for advice, and be clear about your budget, in order to get something more interesting than just the second cheapest wine.

Check the Temperature

If you take a sip of your Champagne or white wine and it isn’t cold enough for you, then don’t just put up with your warm glass of bubbly. Ask the waiter to chill it for a while longer, bring you a colder bottle, or leave the bottle in an ice bucket so that it can cool down and taste better as a result.

Don’t Be Scared by the Pronunciation

People are often put-off ordering the wine they think they want because it has a complicated name and you have no idea how to pronounce it. It would be a shame to opt for a less interesting option just because you think you’ll embarrass yourself while ordering it: Be brave, and if all else fails, just point to the one you want.

Don’t Taste Extravagantly

Unless you really are a wine expert who knows what you’re doing when you taste your wine, don’t mess around when you’re poured that tester sip. Just swirl your glass, smell it, and taste it: Don’t try to pretend you know more than you do by asking to sniff the cork, holding your glass up to the light, admiring the wine’s legs, or any other unnecessary action.

Order a Variety

If you’re dining out with a small group, and finish one bottle of wine with your appetizers and want another to go with your entrée, try not to order the same bottle twice. It’s a shame to be presented with a great wine list, only to focus on just one wine. However, if you’re with a big party, this rule doesn’t apply: If you’ve found something everybody likes, stick with it. It’s not worth the hassle of trying to find a different bottle that will satisfy everybody’s taste.

Trust Your Instinct

Sommeliers and servers will often try to influence your wine ordering decision with their tips and recommendations. While these are often useful, if they don’t sound like something you want, are over your budget, or if you’ve found something else you want to try, don’t let them gently manipulate you into ordering what they want you to have. 

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