How to choose wine in a restaurant


Exploring and tasting wine: how to choose wine in a restaurant

Restaurant wine lists, explained

Our in-house Wine School book ‘Exploring & Tasting Wine’ looks at a number of real-life wine topics. Today we look at choosing wine in a restaurant

When you look at a restaurant wine list, it will help you to choose wines if you almost conduct a ‘virtual tasting’ of the wines in your imagination! Consider the following:

  • The grape variety/ies of the wine. This will affect the style of the wine – aromas, flavours, acidity, body.
  • The origin of the wine. Is it from a cool or hot climate? This will affect the style of the wine, in terms of acidity, alcohol, body and ripeness of flavours.
  • Which wine you might enjoy with each course. With smoked salmon, for instance, a high acidity, zesty Sauvignon Blanc will cut through the richness of the fish; alternatively the smoothness of a Chardonnay can be an equally good match because it complements the richness (and the hint of oak matches the smoked flavour). It’s very personal; you must find what you enjoy.

Ask the sommelier. If the restaurant you’re in has a good sommelier, do take advantage of him or her – wine professionals do as well. Now that you know how to describe wines, ask questions that will help guide you to the style you enjoy – for example ‘how oaked is your Chardonnay from Carneros?’

Explore our range of Wine School courses here. Or order your own copy of the book for more every-day wine topics.