How to Order Wine in a Restaurant

I was having dinner with my father when he reached over, pinched the soft flesh on the back of my arm and said, “Look at zees.” My father is French.

He pointed to a 20-something man, on a date. The waiter had just opened the wine and set the cork down on the table. The man’s face was panicked and pinched. He fumbled, picked up the cork, brought it to his mouth and bit it – hard. He set it down with a nod. And then we laughed.

Ordering wine should be a pleasure, not a humiliation. Here’s how to do it:

1. Ask for the Sommelier
It’s okay to not know any of the wines on the list. There are zillions of wines in the world. But any restaurant with a decent list also has someone who’s composed that list and who can help you. That said, come armed with the names of a couple wines, or regions, that you know you like – and why.

2. Swirl, Sniff and Sip
Does tasting the sample splash make you feel like an ascot-wearing dweeb? Too bad: There’s a practical reason for it. Watch this video I made to learn why:

How to Sample Wine Without Looking like a Clown from Kathryn Borel on Vimeo.

3. Don’t Be a Varietal-ist
Varietals have overarching characteristics, but a Pinot Noir grown in Burgundy is different than one from Australia’s Yarra Valley. So to proclaim your love for Pinot Noir is like saying, “I love all Cypriots!” Chances are, there are one or two Cypriots who are jerks.

Finally, remember: wine is a pleasure. Veni vidi vino!

Kathryn Borel Jr., who is pictured above, is the author of the new book Corked. It’s out now in bookstores across the land. (But not in the sea.) It’s about wine, France, her father and death. For more details, visit here. And stay tuned for more wine wisdom from Kathryn on DailyXY in the weeks to come.

Image courtesy of Lee Towndrow.

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