Here you are, sitting with that lovely creature opposite of you in a fancy restaurant. You have thought of everything including your clothing, haircut, place of your choice, table of your choice and timing. You have anticipated a beautiful sunset or a full or crescent moon, combined with candlelight, in short the perfect setting for an exciting adventure with the lady of your dreams. Then comes the wine list, a list full of exotic incomprehensible names and a lot of numbers to go with it. You know of course that there is white and red wine, champagne and even rose wine. What is the right thing to do? Read on and I will give you some handy tips on how to order wine on a first date plus some mistakes you want to avoid at all times.
No reason to be embarrassed
First of all, most people in the world do not have a clue as to how to order wine with their dinner and moreover how to best pair each wine with their dishes, because nobody teaches us. But there are people who can help you, especially when a restaurant has such an extensive wine list. You can ask your waiter for recommendations or the resident expert who conceived this wine list. If you are unsure, why don’t you start by preparing yourself beforehand and phone the restaurant to send you their wine menu?
Do you order wine by the glass or by the bottle? I would recommend ordering a bottle, as you would have about 3 glasses each over a period of maybe two hours. Buy 4 or 5 glasses separately and you probably will have paid more, for less of a choice. Do not take the first growth special wine that is advertised by the place or a wine that you normally buy in your local supermarket. Try something new!
Basic rules for pairing wine and food
There are some golden rules for pairing wines with food as I have pointed out here. A small summary here:
- White wines generally go well with seafood, ham, veal, pasta, chicken and turkey. The best fit is with roasted chicken or other white meat.
- Reds go well with red meat, lamb, deer in general stronger tasting dishes
- If you have food from some region, try wine that comes from the same region. Try a pizza with some Chianti.
Ultimate choice of wine
Whatever I would do here, I would certainly ask my partner what her preference in wine is and I would ask her what she prefers to eat. Do not order a wine that she had been sharing with other friends of hers before, as you might be found out as boring.
Now that we have done some preparations, we can make some wine choices. It is ok to ask the waiter/expert to choose from the two or three wines you have selected from the list. Do not make the mistake of choosing the most inexpensive wine, as it will look cheap or the most expensive one just to show off, because more often than not they might not be to your liking. Also do not choose the house wine, which is the easy one out, but bear in mind that this might be one of the cheaper wines with, however, high margins for the restaurant owner.
Opening the wine
Maybe you noticed this before and asked yourself why, but a waiter has to show the etiquette on the bottle chosen, so that you will be ensured that he brought the right one. After your confirmation he will open the bottle at your table and subsequently will give you the cork. The only thing you want to do here is pick it up and convince yourself that the cork is wet at its bottom. The reason for its wetness is that the bottle should have been stored in a laying position so that the cork remains wet and cannot shrivel. When the cork shrivels, air could come into the wine and adversely affect the taste. Also note if the cork is wet through and through, which also might be a bad sign.
Tasting the wine
After this ritual the waiter will pour you just a little bit of wine for tasting purposes. A common misconception is that you test if the wine is to your liking. In effect you try it in order to know if the wine is drinkable. This is why you first put your nose in the wine glass and smell the aromas. What you do not want to smell is acid, vinegar or mould like aroma. You want a fresh, fruity smell. After that you drink the wine for its taste. The only thing the waiter wants to hear if the wine is ok and then he will pour your glasses, the ladies first. Please bear in mind that is perfectly customary to send back a wine that is not drinkable any more and generally the restaurant will accept it. In some cases they want to try themselves, and I will not stop them.
From my own experience on one occasion I had to send back two bottles of rose wine (same brand, same vintage) which happened to be undrinkable. And this was in one of the finest hotels in Bangkok, but bottle number three was perfectly ok! So this can happen to you anywhere, just be prepared and do the right thing.
This is all there is to it and anybody can do this. The beauty of it is that your taste differs from anybody else’s. The more you try drinking wines, the more you get the hang of and given the fact that you adhere to some basic rules as handed over here and that your taste is personal, you can never be wrong in your choices. Your dish partner will also see that and certainly appreciate your confidence in selecting a good wine with the right dish. Happy dating!
If this article has whetted your appetite for wine, then find some wine reviews of/have access to some excellent Chardonnays by clicking the images to the right (for mobile users just under this text) with the headings World best Chardonnays. Choose the area for delivery between USA, UK and Australia.
I hope you liked the above information. If you have some comments or when you have questions, feel free to put them in the comment box and I will get back to you within 24 hours.