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Restaurant Wine List Tips

Posted by Alison Matera on Dec 29, 2017 4:12:34 PM

Dining out can be such a wonderful experience, ordering food off the menu is usually no problem…. you decide what you are hungry for and you order it. Then your server hands you the wine list and its five pages long, don’t fret! There are several useful tips to help you navigate your way through a restaurant wine list:


  • First of all, ask if there is a sommelier on staff to help you make a selection, some of the finer restaurants will have a wine manager on duty.
  • If there is not a wine manager available, ask your server for a recommendation. Simply explain to the server the style of wine that you enjoy and don’t be afraid to give them a price range, that is actually very helpful to them when choosing the perfect wine for you.
  • If no one is available to guide you, don’t go for the most expensive wine on the list or the cheapest wine on the list, keep your selection mid priced and look for wines from regions like the south of France, Spain or South America. There great value wines being produced all over the world. Step outside the box.

Food and Wine Pairing Made Simple

The old rule of  “white wine with fish and red wine with meat” is for the most part, long gone. But, there are some very helpful and established guidelines for matching food with wine successfully (there is a reason why chocolate chip cookies go so well with milk and so badly with orange juice).

Like everything else in our lives, it’s all about balance. In order to achieve the best possible pairings you must think about the basic elements of taste in both the food and the wine. Try to balance these elements so that the food and wine do not over-power each other. Your first goal should be to try and match the weight of the food with that of the wine. Rich, heavy foods prefer wines with similar weight and body. Lighter, delicate foods pair well with light-bodied wines, both white and red.


Did You Know…

That most wine friendly restaurant’s with a reputable wine list will have what is known as a “corkage fee”. This is a fee charged in restaurants for opening a bottle of wine brought in by a patron. The fee is usually around $10-15 (locally). This is a great way to save money while dining out, but there are some rules:


  1. It is always a good idea to call ahead and ask the restaurant about their corkage fee. Give them a heads up.
  2. Never bring a wine that is already on their list (or an extremely cheap wine, like jug wine).
  3. If you have a bottle of wine that requires chilling, bring the wine chilled in an insulated wine tote bag.
  4. For a very special bottle, consider offering the sommelier or waiter a taste of the wine, sometimes they will waive the corkage fee if you share.