It's very common to feel put on the spot when the waiter asks to know what kind of wine you want to order. There are so many different wines that finding the right one can be tricky. However, all you need to do is follow this guide, and you'll be able to debonairly reel off your order without breaking a sweat.
Check in Advance
If you know which restaurant you'll be heading to, go to their website to check the online menu and wine list. You'll be able to consider what you'd like to eat, and then take the time to research wine options. When you're asked to order, you'll be able to quickly give a concise and informed answer—an easy way to impress your date or dining companions.
Remember the General Combinations
There are few steadfast rules to combining wine and food, but you should remember the general pairings to avoid making any obvious mistakes. The old adage that fish dishes should be ordered with white and steaks ordered with red still stands, but you can take things a little further without having to become an expert.
For example, full-bodied reds such as Bordeaux and Cabernet go well with game and steak, while a light red (Merlot) or full bodied white (Chardonnay) tends to make a fine combination with chicken or turkey.
Consider the Time of Day
People typically know that they should consider what they'll be eating when ordering wine, but the time of day is also important. If you're drinking wine with lunch—especially if you've only had a little food for breakfast—it's generally sensible to go for a lighter option.
This will generally mean ordering a white, but you can eliminate guesswork by simply consulting the alcohol percentage of each wine; this should be included on the list. Any wines with less than 12.5% alcohol are considered to be light-bodied. Rieslings and Prosecco are examples. 12.5% to 13.5% alcohol wines are considered medium—think Burgundy, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc. Full-bodied wines of over 13.5% include Zinfandel and Shiraz.
Ask for Assistance
You might assume that asking for the assistance of a waiter, or, if you're lucky, a sommelier, will make you seem inexperienced. However, taking the time to ask for a recommendation only helps to mark you out as someone who appreciates fine dining, which is far more impressive than making a mistake by resisting help.
Just be sure to pick out your appetizer and main course before you ask about possible wine combinations. Following this guide won't just help you impress; you'll also be able to enjoy a finer combination of wine and food whenever you go out for dinner. Remember, the more you learn the more you'll enjoy it. For more tips or suggested wines to try, consult restaurants like Empire Grill.