When ordering wine in a restaurant, it is easy to feel a bit overwhelmed when presented with a wine list. Our CKJY Exports team wants to help you with some helpful tips in this week’s blog post. Learn tips from our Wine Expert Todd Wetzel on how to order wine that you will enjoy.

There are many factors that play into ordering the perfect bottle of wine. You must first consider the cuisine.  Big, fatty beef cuts crave bold tannic reds while seafood demands a wide variety of whites.  You can easily make a mediocre dish and/or a mediocre wine look like a rockstar if paired properly.  The best question you can ask, at the right restaurant, is if you may speak to their sommelier.  A good sommelier can make your experience!  If this is not possible, there are a few guidelines to help create your own memorable experience.

What to Do When Going to a Restaurant & Ordering Wine

Start with asking for the wine list, if it hasn’t already been presented to you.  There are many different approaches that can be taken, at this point.  The best is to survey the rest of the table and determine a consensus.  A white and a red selection is almost unavoidable when pairing more than one course and multiple guests.  If you can’t get enough people to agree to share a bottle, it only makes sense to refer to the “by the glass” selection. BTG is often the wise choice when pairing the perfect cuisine.

And Then …

Once the bottle is selected, it is then presented to the guest that ordered it.  The server will then open it and pour a small taste.  This is to determine, by the guest, if the wine is uncorked.  A corked wine will taste of what some describe as basement or dirty feet.  It is a phenomenon resulting from the cork itself and the wine is not good to drink. Once you have committed to ordering a bottle, there is no turning back.   If you simply don’t like the wine, it is typically not appropriate to return it.  The guest should then give the wine a swirl, a smell, and a swallow.

What Types of Wines to Expect at Different Kinds of Restaurants

Steakhouses frequently sell the Bordeaux varietals-Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot-because they pair beautifully with fatty chops of meat.  Most seafood dishes need delicate white wines to bring out their finest qualities.  Cheeses are an entirely different world of pairing.  All of these marriages, like any greats, succeed in their balance.  You don’t want two dominant characteristics because the best qualities will drown each other out.  They need to complement each other without effort.

Secrets to Looking Like a Wine Connoisseur

Quality, price range, vintage are always a factor in determining wine selection.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great experience with wine in a restaurant.  A $7.00 glass of wine paired with a $4 cheese in the right setting can be magical!  The value of wine has many variables.  The biggest of all is what you enjoy.  Do you gravitate towards juicy, dry, spicy, buttery, oaky, light, heavy?  The more descriptors you identify with will help you narrow your selection down.

Conclusion:  At the end of the day, there are only two things you need to remember to make you look like a true wine connoisseur. No matter what you decide on, order with confidence and order with passion.


Published by Todd Wetzel

Family, Living in Napa & the Chicago Cubs 

Our CKJY Exports team affectionately calls him… “THE Todd”.

Todd has 20+ years of experience regarding everything wine, beer, spirits and the service industry. He is a triple threat because provides keen insights to the changing wants of consumers and working knowledge of fine restaurants. Additionally, Todd brings an in depth understanding of how wineries, breweries, distilleries and distributors operate to our team.

Todd is the team’s "go to alcohol expert." He pairs his impeccable taste with a friendly outgoing nature and a big smile on his face. Follow Todd’s blog posts to gain a more in depth understanding of American wine, beer and spirits!

Todd’s go to favorites are.. lush Viogniers, delicious IPA’s and his weakness is a rich Cabernet Sauvignon. But what truly excites him is trying new and creative things!

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