How to Order Wine From a Restaurant Wine List

How to Order Wine From a Restaurant Wine List

Food & Wine Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle shares his tips on how to order wine from a restaurant wine list like a pro. Remember these tips to do everything from getting the best value bottle, to picking the best pairing for your meal.

Ah, it’s the wine list, but people are worried when they are handed the wine list with hundreds of wines. What do you order? How much should you spend? I’m gonna give you five tips about how to handle a wine list so that that whole fear of wine list thing disappears completely.

How to Order Wine From a Restaurant Wine List

People love buying wine by the glass in restaurants. But look, if you’re sitting at a table and there are four of you and you’re all buying the same wine it’s almost always a better deal just to go ahead and buy a bottle of the wine. You get four pours/glasses out of the bottle, and then you have one glass left over. There’s this classic thing in restaurant wine lists where people say you should order the second least expensive wine on the list. It’s just not true, any terrific restaurant is gonna have great wines straight through the list.

The one thing the second wine will do, and the reason people choose it is it’s a way of buying an inexpensive wine that doesn’t make you look totally cheap. If you’re looking for value on restaurant wine lists here’s a tip… famous name regions, Napa Valley, Burgundy, and the most popular grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir – are always gonna be priced a little bit higher because people want them.

So if you head to somewhere like Argentine Malbec, that’s gonna offer you a little bit better value and there are some fantastic wines in the area. Don’t just order Cabernet or Chardonnay every time because you’re used to it. Go outside your comfort zone, head for somewhere new. Try something from Italy or from Greece. There are some spectacular wines out there that you’ve never heard of, and they’re worth a try.

You come in and sit down at a great restaurant like Harry’s, where I am, and there are 4000 wines on this list. What are you gonna do? Are you gonna read through every single one? I don’t think so, so ask for help. Tell them what you’re ordering, and what you want to have for dinner. How much do you want to spend? They know this list. They’ll guide you through it and give you something great, you’ll have a fantastic experience there.

Here are five great tips for how to order wine from a restaurant wine list. All you need to do is go to a restaurant and order some wine and actually order some food while you’re at it, why not!

The 5 tips on how to order wine from a restaurant wine list

#1 – Buy the bottle
#2 – The second most expensive bottle isn’t the best
#3 – Wine from famous regions sell at a premium
#4 – Step outside your comfort zone
#5 – Ask the sommelier for help

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Want some help ordering wine to drink at home?

If you want some personal wine recommendations from our co-editor and consultant, contact [email protected], or call Pat at (866) 332-9463. He is a 27-year veteran professional consultant.

He’ll learn your preferences and budget, and never try to convince you to get something you won’t enjoy… and if you don’t, he’ll take back the empty bottle (actually. you can keep it) and send you something else to replace it!

Or for the cost of a Starbucks, grab my wine guide/booklet “Any Glass With Wine in it is a Wine Glass”. If you’d like to read the intro, or order it in paperback, on Kindle, or even as an audiobook to listen to as you drive to your favorite wine shop, you can grab it by clicking here!

How to Order Wine From a Restaurant Wine List A Pro

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