It’s never a good idea to just wing it when ordering off a wine list. Here are five things not to do when ordering wine at a restaurant.

Don’t Choose the House Wine

Okay, unless you’re in wine country, like Napa, the quality of house wine is typically subpar. Oh, and the price per glass generally is what the restaurant pays for the entire bottle. Also known as a rip-off! Although, as wineries continue to private label wine for restaurants, this is starting to change! Restaurants that have their own labeled wine have typically chosen the wine that is being poured, so it is most likely of better quality.

Don’t Fall for the “Second Cheapest Bottle” Scam

While you might think it a good strategy to order the second cheapest bottle on the menu, watch out. Restaurants are anticipating this so, the second cheapest bottle will likely have the highest markup overall with as much as 400 percent. With that in mind, you’re better off going with the cheapest bottle on the menu.

Skip Over Name Brands

Name brands on the menu scream expensive! You’d be better off consulting the bartender or sommelier for something new with a similar taste and a non-recognizable label.

Don’t Ask to Smell the Cork

It’s a myth that smelling the cork is the best way to tell if a bottle is good or bad. Instead, sniff the wine in your glass. Revolutionary, I know. If the wine smells like fruit or is a little smoky, it’s good to go. If you smell vinegar or something like a musty attic, mention it to your waiter and see about getting something else. There’s no reason you should pay and drink poor wine at a restaurant. Here is another tip on the same line: My mom and I were at a local restaurant and we both ordered the same wine by the glass. Mine was delicious, but my mom commented that she was shocked this wine was so bad. When I tasted it, I agreed. We talked with the waiter and it turns out that her glass was from the last of a week-old open bottle and mine was from a freshly opened bottle. They quickly poured her a glass from the new bottle and apologize. ALWAYS trust your tastebuds!

Don’t Get Overwhelmed with Pronunciations

Unless you majored in viniculture, no one expects common folk to know how to pronounce Petite Sirah or Montepulciano. Just trying will get you an A for effort. Also, it's 100 percent acceptable to open up the wine list and point. Don’t stress!


Cheers,

Natalie