Reading a Restaurant Wine List

Almost every restaurant you visit will have a separate wine list. The first step when you get your menu is to ask for the wine list. Don't order your wine before you look at the wine list, and look at the menu. That way you know what you are going to order and what the options are. Sometimes an inexperienced server will pressure you to order your drinks before you even look at the menu. Tell them you'll just start with water, to let them know you are going to take your time.

Look at the menu items first. What strikes you as tasty? There is no right or wrong choice here. We all like different things. Some people love filet. Some people love tuna. Whatever you enjoy eating, that is fine, Relish it. Write it down. Once you know what you want to eat, it's time to figure out what you want to drink to go with it.

People have invented all sorts of silly rules over the years about wine and food. Red wine can only go with meat. White wine can only go with fish. These rules are made to be broken. All that matters is what YOU like. If you like chardonnay with your chicken, enjoy! If you like pinot noir with your salmon, have at it! Every taste bud is different. Each of us liks different flavor combinations. Some of us like chocolate with peanut butter. Some like chocolate with marshmallow. It's not "right" or "wrong". It is unique and that is what makes us special.

So certainly determine for yourself what you enjoy. If you like tuna with zinfandel, order it and enjoy it. If you're just trying veal for the very first time, certainly ask the waiter for a suggestion about which wines he would suggest. But if he suggests Cabernet and you hate Cabernet, go with something you enjoy. It's far more likely that if you love White Zinfandel that you'll enjoy a pairing of White Zin and veal far more than you'd enjoy veal with a wine you hate.

The real key is to order wines by the glass. If you absolutely hate a wine you try, you're usually only out $6. That's not bad - and you can try tastes of the glasses of other people around the table too. Sample for yourself what you like and dislike, be open to experimentation, and keep trying new things. Soon you'll have a list of what your favorites are and be well prepared for any new excursion!

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.