We’ve all been there. You’re out for dinner in a gorgeous restaurant, your date is looking incredible, and everything seems to be going swimmingly. Then, a cheery waitress hands you the wine list and your date looks at you expectantly. Your face flushes, your heart races, the words in front of you blur. “Er… Yeah we’ll get a bottle of your… erm… house Chardonnay please”. Disappointing choice. Here’s our top tips on how to order wine in a restaurant without feeling like you’re shooting darts with your eyes closed.
Lots of people drinking and eating outside a classic cafe

The general practice of ordering wine in a restaurant goes a little like this:

  1. Choose and order a wine from the list
  2. Taste-test the wine in front of the server
  3. Manage this without looking like a fool

Choose and order a wine from the list

You need to have a think about what you like, and what bottles of wine you have enjoyed before. See our previous article ‘The First Step In Choosing The Right Wine For You’ if you’re not sure on your taste preferences. If you’re looking to try something new, an age old trick is to hold up the menu, pick out a bottle you have enjoyed before, and then point at the price of it to the sommelier and say ‘I’m looking for a bottle similar to this one’. The sommelier should then pick up on your signal and recommend similar wines in your price range.

Taste-test the wine in front of the server

The bottle presentation is fairly simple; check that it’s the correct name, variety and vintage that you’ve asked for and you’re good to go. Then (the scary part) is approving the wine. However, it’s really not so terrifying. You have two simple jobs here: smell the wine to check that it’s not corked, then taste the wine to check there aren’t any other problems with the wine.

Manage this without looking like a fool

If you’ve followed our steps, you’re all set to enjoy your bottle of wine (and your date!).

Italian pasta and a bottle of imported red wine