How to Order Wine in One Sentence — Outsmarting Wine

by in Drinks, October 18th, 2011

how to order wine in one sentence
You won’t find me wearing a bowtie or a tweedy jacket. I don’t speak with a lilting English accent or raise a pinky when I drink. In other words, I don’t look like the prototypical wine expert. This is good news for you, because I don’t get special treatment in restaurants; in fact, you might say I have a front-row seat to the nerve center of wine anxiety. The idea that we’re supposed to make the right choice from a long list of foreign names, years and prices — and do so in the stolen moments of glancing down at a wine list — is a game for Don Quixote.

Assuming that your server or sommelier seems informed, here are three ways to stack the deck in your favor by ordering wine with just one sentence.

Ask for a wine with some personality: Many wines are disappointing if only for their predictable, sleep-inducing character, offering the kind of watered-down tonic that only a Real Housewife could get excited about. But if you request a “wine with personality” from someone in-the-know, you may find yourself sitting with a glass of intrigue and discovery.

Ask: What does the chef drink when he or she is off-duty? It is usually something interesting and gentle on the wallet.

Fill in the blanks: Compose a Mad Libs-style question specifying your desired color (red or white), weight (light or rich) and price (modest or expense account). One sentence is often enough to unzip a suitcase of potential oohs and ahs from a wine-passionate server.



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Comments (7)

  1. Svensson says:

    Come now, ordering wine from a list is not that hard. Anyone who can appreciate the difference between different wines is sure to drink wine on at least a somewhat regular basis. Protip: have a gander at the label of the wines you like and remeber year, grape and country. That’s all you need to know. Add to that the above questions for the sommelier or waiter and you’ll be all set. Anyone who care the least bit about wine should carry with them at least two-three grape varieties and as many countries. Year is of less importance.

  2. Clara Tea says:

    Svensson's comments have some merit. Last winter I went to a wine tasting event that was co-sponsored by a wine distributor/ warehouse and the local community college, which had a non-credit wine tasting course. Three wines came out on top with the wine tasters. Two of the wines were rather pricy, but one of the top three was the red wine from Trader Joe's. They call it "Two Buck Chuck" out in Los Angeles. It is one of the wines from the Charles Shaw wineries that sells for under two dollars out on the west coast. Of course the wine labels add to the mystique. But sometimes "taste" , much like love, is really blind.

  3. I would question the palate and experience of any "wine taster" who gave third place to Two-Buck Chuck during a wine tasting unless there were only three wines in the contest.

  4. MDW says:

    All wine tastes the same, it's so overrated.

  5. jason says:

    Chefs drink champagne – and I wouldn't say their wines are "gentle on the wallet" – they drink for free, so the more expensive the better

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