With 30% of Americans being frustrated, or even confused by wine menus at restaurants, it’s clear that choosing the perfect wine can be a daunting process. After all, it can be hard to settle on just one for the entire meal – though it’s entirely possible with some basic wine knowledge and prior research. Whether you’re celebrating a promotion at work or just having a nice dinner with your partner, picking the right wine can make all the difference – and it doesn’t have to be difficult at all.
Do your research
One of the most important things you can do to ensure you’re getting the perfect wine is to do your research before you even get to the restaurant. This can easily be done by familiarizing yourself with basic wine knowledge. For example, following tasting notes on wine menus (which can help you pair the wine with food) and being aware of price points so you invest wisely can both become useful at the table. Taste-testing at home can also give you an idea of which wines you like and don’t like, and can help you make a better and more educated wine choice while at the restaurant.
Knowing which foods pair with which wines can be another key point in choosing the perfect wine, as your pick can seriously complement your meal. For example, seafood works well with Chardonnay, and steak pairs well with a bold red like Cabernet Sauvignon. To prepare for this, one valuable resource is to look up the restaurant’s wine and food menu, as many are available online. Not only can you decide what you’d like to eat ahead of time, but you can pick the perfect wine pairing as well. Plus, you can plan ahead even further by taking the tasting notes listed into consideration – all without feeling under pressure.
Glass or bottle?
Many fine dining establishments have several options when it comes to choosing your wine, and by the glass or by the bottle is one of them. While neither option is necessarily wrong, there are different situations where you should choose one over the other. For example, when white wine doesn’t suit everyone’s meal, when you have a fish starter and a meat-based main course, or when you’re dining alone, then ordering by the glass can be a better choice. This means you can get more than one wine for the different meals, and won’t end up wasting any excess. However, this can get pricey quickly due to markup, and especially so when there are more people at the table. When one wine does suit your tastes for the entire meal, ordering by the bottle can both be simple and even more cost-efficient.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sommeliers, or the waiter who serves your wine, are wine professionals: they are trained to know which wine pairs best with the food being served, and are prepared to answer any question you may have – or make a recommendation based on your tastes or budget. Asking questions can not only ease your frustration, but can give you valuable insight for next time.
Choosing the perfect wine may sound like a difficult decision to make, but it doesn’t have to be. By doing your research beforehand, knowing what you like, and asking questions, you can choose the perfect wine for your meal in any restaurant.