One of the biggest stereotypes in movies or on television revolves around ordering wine in a restaurant. You'll always see a scene with the clueless diner and the stuck-up wine steward. While this may make for good comedy, the reality is that ordering wine is not that difficult. Sure there may be a few snobs on either side of the ordering process, but most average people are not, nor are they expected to be, wine experts. Ordering wine is easy, as long as you remember these few tips.
Never Order the House Wine
The house wine in most American restaurants is usually cheap and low quality. These are the restaurants budget-savers, or the vintages that don't sell well that they're trying to get rid of. An exception to this rule is if you're traveling in Europe, where the house wine is usually a good-quality, local specialty. In most of those cases, you're in for a treat.
When in Doubt, Ask
You don't have to be president of your local wine club to enjoy good wine in a restaurant, and no one will laugh at you if you ask your server for a recommendation. They're trained to assist you, they're familiar with the brands and vintages in stock, and they can give you a pretty good idea of which to suggest for your enjoyment.
Order By the Glass
Red or White?
If you're simply enjoying a nice glass of wine with a few nibbles, this is a matter of taste. With food, there are some guidelines, but none of them are set in stone. Basically, red wine with red meat or dishes that have a red sauce; white wine goes with poultry, fish, and dishes with a butter or white sauce.
Even mid-range local restaurants train their staff members to assist guests with their wine selection. Many will be happy to provide tips on favorable pairings to ensure that you have a pleasant eating experience. Upscale restaurants, such as those owned by famous chefs like Tim Love, have sommoliers on staff who are experts on the vintages in their cellar. The one thing that you should take away from this article is that wine is something that's meant to be enjoyed, not something that should cause you stress.