Researchers now suggest that a glass of red wine with dinner can lead to heart health benefits due to the antioxidants present in the wine. But of course, many of us already know that enjoying a glass of wine to complement a meal is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Drinking that glass of wine at home is a comfortable way to end a busy day, but for some, ordering wine in a restaurant is a whole other experience. Here are some tips to take the stress out of ordering restaurant wine so you can relax and have fun with at dinner.
Check with Your Dinner Companions
Some people never met a glass of wine they did not like, while others have strong preferences. Sometimes women think they only like white wine, and some men will go for the cabernet as a reflexive reaction. Also, there are people who prefer to buy wine from a particular region or country, like California or Italy. If you have a large party, the obvious solution is to order at least one bottle of red and one bottle of white. For a smaller group, a heavier white wine like an oaky Chardonnay or a light wine like a Pinot Noir may satisfy both the red and the white wine lovers. One bottle of wine should serve three people who are drinking moderate amounts.
Pairing Wine with Food
Pairing wine with food is not an exact science, but on the other hand, there are some guidelines you can follow. Balance is the key. You will want to order a wine that will hold up to the dishes you are ordering, yet not overpower them. So, generally speaking, beef dishes will go well with red wines like merlot, cabernet and pinot noir, while a white sauvignon blanc or chardonnay will bring out the flavors of seafood, fish and poultry. Heavier dishes like lamb recipes can stand up to Burgundy, a French pinot noir. Seafood with a light, delicate flavor like lobster goes well with a sauvignon blanc or even a Champagne.
Placing the Order
Some wine lists are short, simple and descriptive, while others are intimidating in a lengthy, leather-bound volume with unpronounceable names for the wines. As a wine ordering novice, a safe choice is usually the house wine. You might ask about the house white and the house red, and order a bottle of each. The house wine typically has the added advantage of being priced somewhat lower than other wines on the menu. If you are finding it difficult to come to a decision, ask the sommelier or waiter to offer some suggestions.
When the Wine Comes
The waiter will bring the wine to the table and show you the label. Check it out to make sure that is the wine you ordered. When the waiter opens the wine bottle, look at the cork to be sure that it is not broken, dry or cracked, an indication that the wine may have been stored incorrectly. You will then be offered a small taste of the wine. Take a whiff, take a sip and nod or say “it’s good” to the waiter if there is no hint of vinegar or any other unpleasant flavor. The waiter will then fill everyone’s glass halfway. Then make your toast, and enjoy!