You arrive at a restaurant with a friend or two, are seated by the server who then places wine menus in front of you. Your tummy fills with butterflies in anticipation of what the restaurant has to offer. 

On the flip side, however, the experience can make you want to pull your hair out. Either the list is too long; is as thick as your bible or you simply don’t recognize some of the names you come across- forget about pronouncing them.

Let me put your mind at ease for the next time you go out and feel like a glass or bottle of wine. It’s as simple as calling ahead and asking if you may bring your own bottle. This is a little tidbit that a lot of people either forget or are unaware of. Most restaurants will allow you to bring in your own bottle for a fee.

Besides that, there are a few things to keep in mind when ordering wine in a restaurant:

  • First check to see what everyone else is having. This way you can all order a bottle or two to share. It’s a cost effective way to enjoy fine wine

  • If your taste buds are all going in different directions, consider ordering by the glass. Even though it is pricier than by the bottle, many restaurants now have a decent selection- just remember to do the math

  • Take your time with the wine list. Restaurants usually break down their range by country, region or style and provide enough detail to help you make an informed decision

  • If not, the servers are also well versed, so don’t be intimidated to ask questions

  • If you can’t pronounce it, order it anyway. Moschofilero is one that is still hard for me to remember. It’s an adventure after all, so order away!

  • Don’t be shy to go for the house wine. The finer the restaurant the finer the house wine which is sometimes imported directly from the winery

  • Experiment! Most wines go with most foods and part of the fun in dining out is being bold and discovering new taste sensations

  • Don’t be fooled into believing that the most expensive bottle on the list is going to be the best one – trust your taste buds

  • Be prepared to sample the wine when it arrives unless you are served house wine. Take your to time to swirl the glass and give the wine a hearty sniff. Almost anything that could be wrong with the wine can be detected by sight and smell. Then sip to confirm all is fantastic

  • Don’t be afraid to send faulty wine back. It’s not an insult to the restaurant or the sommelier as he or she didn’t make the wine

  • Ensure that you’re happy with the wine temperature. If it’s too warm, ask for an ice bucket

  • When all else fails, stick to what you know. If you recognize names on the list, you might remember how much you paid for them at the wine shop which will give you a good sense on how reasonable (or not) the pricing is

“If you want to explore go for it…life is too short to drink bad wine.”

— Vee

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