Tips from a Sommelier on Ordering Wine in Restaurants – Part 1

BY Montana Rae

SHARE

High-end wine selections from the Coravin program at Guard and Grace

Unless you’re a total wine nerd like me, chances are you’ve found yourself seated in a restaurant staring at a wine list offering with what feels like infinite options. You may have been out with a group of friends, important clients, or a hot date. Being tasked with ordering the wine should be an exciting opportunity, but for some of us, it feels more like a stress test.

Luckily, I’m happy to share a few tips and tricks with you over the next few weeks as this is part one of this three-part series. My hope is to help you feel more confident next time you find yourself calling the shots or bottle, I should say. Together, let’s change the experience from potentially stressful to completely enjoyable.

Ask for help.

This tip is the most obvious but one that I want to emphasize. For whatever reason, many people feel intimidated about asking for assistance selecting a wine. Helping guests navigate the wine list is quite literally the role of the sommelier. If you’re dining in a restaurant that doesn’t have a somm, you can still expect the service team to know their way around their offerings.

I am a certified sommelier who always asks for help and suggestions when dining out. There are thousands of wines in the world! Even if you know what you think the wine will be like, you may not have had it recently. Asking for guidance opens up the conversation with your waitstaff, and there’s a good chance they’ll turn you onto something fantastic that you may not have otherwise considered.

Take your time

There’s no reason to rush to make a decision about the wine! Settle into your surroundings, order a cocktail or a glass of bubbles, and give yourself and your party a chance to review the menu and think about what you’d like to have with your meal.

Decide how much you’d like to spend and stick with it.

Don’t let a server or anyone else pressure you into spending more money on a bottle of wine than you’re comfortable with. Wines come in many different price points, and a lower price doesn’t necessarily mean an inferior wine. I know of several outstanding wine programs in Denver where the staff purposely prices wines at a lower margin because they want to turn people onto it. To make up for this, they charge higher prices on the big-name brands that people constantly order without a thought, reserving the gems and the killer pricing for more adventurous folks.

If it’s available by the glass, ask for a sample.

If you’re considering ordering a bottle also available by the glass, you can request a sample from the bar to help you decide whether you’d like to commit. Simple enough!

Unless you’re a total wine nerd like me, chances are you’ve found yourself seated in a restaurant staring at a wine list offering with what feels like infinite options. You may have been out with a group of friends, important clients, or a hot date. Being tasked with ordering the wine should be an exciting opportunity, but for some of us, it feels more like a stress test.

Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks I’m happy to share with you over the next few weeks as this is part one of this three-part series. My hope is to help you feel more confident next time you find yourself calling the shots, or bottle, I should say. Together, let’s change the experience from potentially stressful to completely enjoyable.
Flight Night at Sunday Vinyl takes place every Wednesday.

Take advantage of flights and special events.

A number of restaurants in the city offer menus with recommended wine pairings in smaller portions, flight options, and other special tasting events. There’s no better way to learn about wine than by tasting, so jump on the flight path and you’ll get exposure to wines you might not normally taste.

Coravin pours can make your heart so happy.

If you’ve never heard of a Coravin, you have now. This wonderful little gadget came about a few years back in a stroke of wine geek genius. The device is about the size of a stapler and features a long, hollow needle and inert gas cartridge. The needle is pressed down into a cork, allowing the user to extract a small sample of the wine. The cartridge then fills the space previously held by a wine with a gas that prevents the rest of it from oxidizing. The needle is removed, and the cork self-heals, allowing the wine to continue to be stored for several months after it’s used.

Several high-end restaurants offer Coravin programs that allow you to taste samples or glasses of wine that would usually be too expensive to offer by the glass. The selections often rotate regularly and provide an incredible opportunity to try expensive and rare wines without committing to a full bottle.

Are you ready to make that reservation for this weekend’s night on the town? Hopefully, you’ve got some new tricks up your sleeve. Stay tuned for part two of this series next week!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Montana Rae

Montana Rae is a CMS Certified Sommelier and WSET Level III residing in Denver, Colorado. She offers private wine tastings, classes, and dinners at clients’ homes and businesses around Colorado, as well as product recommendations, tips, recipes, and more through her company, The Wine Ship. Montana is also a commercial real estate broker specializing in sales and leasing of restaurant and retail spaces in Denver. Contact Montana at montana@thewineship.com and follow her on Instagram @montana.rae.sommelier

More For You

May 24, 2024

Heard: A Bite of News Served on May 24

May 23, 2024

Where To Find Really Good Wine By-the-Glass at Union Station

May 23, 2024

This Spring Lean Into Lovely Lavender All Around Denver

May 21, 2024

As Restaurants Change, Cafe Brazil Remains a Neighborhood Staple, For Now

Search

COPYRIGHT © 2009–2024, DININGOUT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED