Nearly everyone knows what it’s like to feel lost while looking at a wine menu in a restaurant. There are so may different grape varieties, all with different aromas and so many wine countries and producers. In wine, everything is a factor when it comes to the final flavor of the wine. We all know the difficulties of a wine list, and in this blog post I’m giving you tips to understand it better and to look smart. After reading this, everyone will think you’re a professional reading the wine list!
Everybody knows the main varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But there are usually so many more grape varieties on a wine list. When you are lucky, the restaurant or wine bar has already written down some main flavours and tasting styles. But what to do when you don’t have a clue?
Ask and don’t be shy
If you don’t know, just ask. There’s nothing wrong with asking something you don’t know. It’s helpful for the waiter when you do have a clue about what kind of wine you want. So think before you ask if you fancy a red wine, a white one or a glass of rosé and whether you want a rich wine full of flavour and intensity or a fresh and fruity one. If the waiter laughs at your questions he’s the one in the wrong. Just find another fun restaurant or wine bar that does care about their customers.
How to look smart
When you ask the waiter to help you choose there are some things you could say to look smart. The world of wine is divided into two: the Old World and the New World. With the Old World they mean Europe so European wines. Think France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal for example. With the New World they mean the rest of the world: the United States, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. If you know that you particularly enjoy wines from the countries named above you can say something like: “Well, I really like the style of a New World Sauvignon Blanc. For example the ones from New Zealand.” Then it’s up to the waiter to tell you what kind of wines they have that are a match.
Ask to taste
In many wine bars and restaurants it’s possible to ask if you can taste the wine first. You’ll get a wine glass with a small amount to try it out. When wines are only sold by the bottle instead of the glass, this is not always the case. But, if you don’t ask you don’t know, so just request it in a polite way. The waiter will then pour you just a tiny sip to taste.