It’s likely that we’ve all been there at some point. Let’s set the scene. The wine list is being passed around the table like it’s a hot potato – the group you are dining with are all eating something completely different (making the wine complimenting the food scenario virtually impossible) and no one wants to discuss the budget on the wine. Arrhhh – those awkward moments – time for a quick visit to the ladies to avoid the situation?
Fear not – here are a few tips to avoid the wine list showdown!
- Is there a wine waiter or sommelier? Many restaurants will have at least one member of the team who can offer guidance and suggestions. A reputable restaurant will pride themselves on its wine list as well as the food offering, so don’t be afraid to ask. Let them know what you are eating, the styles of wine you enjoy most and indicate what you would like to spend.
- Ask to taste. Telegraph wine writer and author Susie Atkins says ‘if a wine is open, which is certainly the case with those served by the glass, then a half-decent waiter should be pleased to give you a small sip. Just ask – what’s the worst that can happen? They might say no (never mind), or the wine might taste awful (thank goodness you didn’t buy a whole bottle)’.
- Who’s eating what? A broad guide – red wines pair with red meat and white wines with white…or check what flavour dominates the dish. Chances are that everyone will be eating something completely different and depending on the party size, you could opt for a bottle of white, a bottle of rosé and a bottle of red. You can always order more of the most popular.
- Check the menu for wine pairing suggestions.
- What style of food are you eating? It makes sense to pair tapas with Spanish wine or Italian influenced food with Italian wines as there is a natural bond between the flavour profiles of the same nationality.
- Select by country or region. You may not have heard of the wineries listed on the menu, however may have a broad idea of what the region’s wine taste like. New Zealand produces zesty white wines; Australian reds are known to be pronounced primary fruit flavours, whereas Chilean and Argentinian wines are rich and fruity. Call on your own interpretations and share what you know with your fellow diners.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. By sharing with others, you can discover new flavours that will enhance your dining experience!