Wine Etiquette in a Restaurant:
How to Look Like a Polished Host When Ordering Wine
When entertaining clients at a business meal or trying to impress a date, being able to order a bottle of wine with confidence is a must if you want to be viewed as a polished host; but wine etiquette in a upscale restaurant can be an unnecessarily difficult ordeal. Do not let what you don’t know about wine, however, intimidate you. The restaurant staff is there to help you; and the following tips will allow you to follow the customs of wine service with ease and confidence.
When choosing a wine from a restaurant’s wine list, the main goal is to accomplish a suitable pairing with the entrees of your party. If the food orders are too different to generalize with one wine, consider purchasing splits or ordering by the glass. Waiters and sommeliers are there to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to ask for their advice. No one knows the wine list or the food menu as well as the people who work in the restaurant, and their insights can steer people to the best wine-and-food fit.
The Sommelier’s Job
A sommelier is the person whose job it is to design the wine list and help people find their way through it. And, it is their job to ensure that all of the items on the menu have wines that can be paired with them.
Your Job as Host
The greatest sommelier in the world will be completely useless to you unless you can call on him to help, so your first job is to ask him. Be prepared to tell him:
What you are having to eat.
How much you want to spend.
What you have in mind, if anything.
What sorts of wine you typically enjoy—red, white, a little sweet, bone-dry, etc.
Check the Label
After ordering, the waiter/sommelier will retrieve your selection, and then present it, label forward, to the host of the party. It is your job to ensure that he has pulled the right bottle from the cellar. Look to see:
It’s the right label.
It’s the right vintage.
It’s the right bottling. (If you’ve ordered Blanc de Blanc and it’s Blanc de Noir, it’s not the same wine.)