Restaurant Ordering

What wine would you suggest I order?

You may fear asking the question but wait staff fear this question even more. I don’t know of anyone who wants to be embarrassed by a lack of wine knowledge in front of friends. Most food lovers want the ability to pick great restaurant wines or wines for entertaining guests at home. The answer to “which wine” takes a long time to learn and an even longer time to feel confident about.

While wine can be used to kick back, relax and meditate, most wine is made to go with food. Wine is food. It is also a condiment to food. Looking at it this way, you would think you should choose what food you will be having before choosing a wine. Unfortunately wait staff are often encouraged to toss the food menus on the table and at the same time ask “what may I get you to drink”. If you face this rushed decision to order drinks, you are much less likely to order wine for the table. You may feel pressured into ordering soft drinks, a cocktail or water — none of which release or balance flavors in food as well as wine does.

A key early decision for you and your guests in a restaurant or even when entertaining at home is “Do we want to spend some time socializing or relaxing prior to thinking about the meal or do we just want to bring on the food.” In the former case, cocktails or a “meditation” wine make the best choice while in the latter case, food wines are at the top of the list. What is a meditation wine? A meditation wine is one appreciated for its own merits rather than how well it pairs with food. It’s your goto wine for sitting on the porch or easy chair and just contemplating life. Usually it is a lower acid wine (too much acid without food gives heartburn) such as an oaked Chardonnay, Merlot, or Cabernet (among others), or if it is an acidic wine, it is one that is balanced by a bit of sweetness, savory yeast flavors or carbonation. It may be a complex aged red or white wine, a sparkling wine or Champagne, or a fresh fruity wine especially in summer season or warmer climates. More on low acid and high acid wines later.

Click on the following limks to arm yourself with the tools to select the best wine you can for an enjoyable dining social experience.

The Wine List

Warm or Chilled

Pouring the Wine

Tasting the Wine

The links above will also let you know what to expect for wine service when ordering out in a restaurant. It may give you some ideas about how to make your wine and food experience better even though your wait staff may not be up to par on their wine service.

Take charge of your own restaurant wine experience — especially if no one else does!