Restaurant wine lists can be… extensive, to say the least. The last thing you want is to stress over something as minuscule as a drink choice when out for a meal meant for leisure. Or is that just me? Regardless, all those options often put us in that position anyways. In all reality, you don’t need to be an expert to order your wine, but it helps for your own enjoyment to feel as if you played at least a small role in your decision, don’t you think? After all, this blog is focused on those wanting to know more about wine. So, here’s a few tips next time you’re out & want to order wine!
1. Do your research (if you can).
This goes for both wine as a whole, as well as the specific restaurant you plan to dine at. It can help calm the nerves when you know a little more information, prior to being surprised with countless possibilities when you arrive. Most restaurants have a wine list online that you can view before dining, especially now with COVID introducing more QR-code menus than ever before. Take a look at it, see what they can offer you. The varietals, the regions, the flavor profiles—all of them should be on there for your viewing. This doesn’t mean you have to choose your wine before you even sit down, just do yourself a favor & see what you can even choose from first. If they don’t have a menu, do your general wine research. Try to understand a few of those vocabulary words we put out a few weeks ago (i.e., tannins, acidity, crisp, bold, etc.). These will help make talking to the wait staff &/or sommelier (a trained & knowledgeable wine professional) much smoother, & if it still doesn’t, so what! You’re a beginner, you tried & that’s what they’re there for anyways… but we’ll get into that in a bit.
2. Don’t panic.
This one is mostly for all the anxious folk, like me. If you’re presented with a wine list that feels like it takes 3-courses just to read through, remember why you’re there: To enjoy yourself! Chances are, you already know what you’re in the mood for, so just go with it. Picked out your meal first? Great, now choose a yummy wine to go with it. Oh, you chose your wine first? Cool, now what sounds good to eat with it? & Even if it takes you until the bottom of the bread basket to choose either one, order some champagne to sip on while you decide—it’ll do the calming down for you, believe me.
3. Stick to your budget.
Depending on what city you’re in, what genre of food you’re eating, or even the number of people at the table, wine can jack up that check total real quick. On special occasions, price may not be an obstacle, but when going out for just a regular date night, it can be a major factor in your decision. Not only that, but especially when ordering for other people, sometimes sticking to a budget can be uncomfortable. Don’t be pressured into purchasing more than you’re willing to pay for, either. If it’s on their menu, they’re willing to associate their name with it, so it can’t be all that bad. I know that doesn’t sound very convincing, but remember, more expensive doesn’t always necessarily mean better wine.
A small tip if you are embarrassed talking about price with the other dinner guests: When in doubt, point. Tell the waiter or sommelier you’d like a wine “similar to this one” & point to a price on the menu. You can even be more specific & tell them the wine type, variety or meal choice you made to pair it with.
4. Talk to your sommelier.
I feel there are very few things as intimidating as speaking to a professional in their field without having any to little knowledge of the topic yourself. Fun fact, though: You don’t need to know it all—that is NOT a requirement for ordering wine. Actually, that is the whole reason your waiter or sommelier is there in the first place: To help you! & If you think it makes you look inexperienced to do this, you’re wrong. Having a proper conversation with them, telling them what you like & don’t like, & asking for their opinion, will not only get you a wine you’ll love, but enhance your wine knowledge as well. Most high-end restaurants will have a sommelier on staff, but not all dining experiences will. Either way, do not be afraid to ask questions. Especially if there is a sommelier; Their entire job revolves around their wine expertise.
5. Ask for a taste.
If you still aren’t sure even with the recommendations from your waiter or sommelier, ask for a taste. Be brave! Very rarely will they say no, & if they do, that’s literally the worst scenario. Remember though, when they pop open that bottle right in front of you, pour it out & don’t leave until you try it—You don’t have to like it. That’s the whole point, after all. Be considerate, but honest! Make sure you like what you’re paying for; It’s not cheap, remember?
6. Try something new!
This is kind of a bonus tip, but one I feel is very important. You’re not going to learn more about wine by only drinking Cabernet Sauvignon for the rest of your life. Try one you normally wouldn’t try! If that intimidates you, let your waiter or sommelier pick for you. More likely than not, there are hundreds of varieties you’ve never even heard of before. & Who knows, one of those unknowns could possibly be your new favorite. You’ll never know until you try.
The cheat-sheet version of this list basically reassures you that you can’t order wine wrong. You just have to be brave with it. Be confident in not knowing a lot! & No, that’s not an oxymoron; It’s good advice for someone learning about wine. Keeping an open mind is the only thing that will take you to that next level. If you don’t care about getting there, that’s fine, too. If anything, these tips will at least lead you to some yummy wine, & who wouldn’t want that?
Bailey Morris, Marketing/ Gift Shop
Crazy about Wiens wine? Here’s a list of restaurants we serve our wine in! *
1909 – 28656 Old Town Front St, Temecula, CA 92590
Barrel 33 – 40754 Village Dr., Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Bluewater Grill – 26700 Ynez Ct, Temecula, CA 92591
Pechanga Resort and Casino – 45000 Pechanga Pkwy, Temecula, CA 92592
Reading Cinema – 41090 California Oaks Rd, Murrieta, CA 92562
Francesca’s Italian Kitchen – 31165 Temecula Pkwy, Temecula, CA 92592
Spicy Noodle – 25395 Madison Ave #111, Murrieta, CA 92562
Coin-Op Game Room – 28588 Old Town Front St, Temecula, CA 92590
EscoGelato – 122 S Kalmia St, Escondido, CA 92025
Goat and Vine – 41923 2nd Street #102, Temecula, CA 92590
Grazing Theory – 32127 Temecula Pkwy Unit C, Temecula, CA 92592
Embassy Suites – 29345 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92591
Oscar’s Brewing Company – 29375 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92591
Backyard Bottle Shop & Taproom – 39400 Murrieta Hot Springs Rd STE 123A, Murrieta, CA
Ferro – 25840 Cedar St, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA 92549
Grapes & Grains – 28061 Jefferson Ave #5, Temecula, CA 92590
127 West Social – 127 W Elder St, Fallbrook, CA 92028
Toast – 31093 Temecula Pkwy d6, Temecula, CA 92592
*This list has been gathered as of 8/24/21 & is subject to change at any time. Should you dine at any of these establishments, please understand quantities are limited & may not be available at time of visit.