Friday, October 18, 2013

How-to: Understand a Restaurant's Wine List

Most people experience some level of anxiety when a waiter hands them the wine list. The more fancy the restaurant, the worse the anxiety -- and typically the longer the wine list! We often simply ask for recommendations to pair with our food. Sometimes, though, we decide to experiment a little, and see if we "know our stuff." I mean, we do this for a living, right? We always argue it's not rocket science, so here are 3 steps you can take to ensure you at least understand the type of wine you're ordering:

1. Know your noble grapes: these are the most popular grapes out there, the staples of any wine list.
2. Use the wine list to search for the grapes you like most.
3. Where the grape is not listed, use your smartphone to search by region: most European wines list by region, with the assumption you know what most grapes are grown there. Thankfully, we don't have to carry all this knowledge in our heads anymore.

Not sure how to pick out the region from the wine description? Simply ask your wine server to help you decode your wine menu. You should never be afraid to ask questions about the wine list, no more than you'd be afraid to ask about how a particular dish is prepared. And if your wine sommelier is like us, the chance to talk about wine is the best part of their work.

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