Since a true wine connoisseur takes years to fine tune his/her wine palate and hone his/herknowledge and craft, it is but natural that for everyone else, wine can be quite intimidating a subject. So what happens when you’re put in charge of ordering for the evening and there’s no time to study the wines on offer? Do yousuccumb to the anticipation of embarrassment and mumble your way through? Or do you order a bottle of whiskey or a beer under the pretext that Indian cuisine is best paired with beer or Scotch? Or, worse still, stay satiated with a bottle of water? Well, if this was a multiple choice question, ‘None of The Above’ would be the right answer.
Here are 5 tricks that can make you seem like an expert on wine and make your guests believe they turned to the right person to do the ordering.
The Homework Trick
If this dinner engagement is important and the wine can make or break it, you’re better off doing some research in advance. Check out the wine list of the restaurant you’ll be dining at by reading online or calling up the restaurant and speaking to the wine custodian. Take down names of wines that he/she suggests and read up on the ones that are within your budget. The internet today offers a plethora of information on all the wines that ever graced this earth, so read up! Reading up about 5-6 wines from the menu and going to the dinner well prepared will do wonders for your confidence levels! Once you are at the restaurant, ease up and act cool!
The Question Trick
Instead of straightaway asking the resident sommelier, “What wine should I order?”, try giving him/her an indication of the style you prefer - “I like medium-bodied reds” or “I prefer light and crisp whites” - and then hit the ball into his/her court by following that up with, “What do you suggest?”. This allows the sommelier to do his/her job of recommending something based on your preferences. Within no time, the sommelier will start offering a lot more information than you asked for. This should make choosing a wine easier and simultaneously give the impression that you played an important role in making that choice!
The Menu Trick
On a date and budget-conscious? The trick is in being subtle. Call the sommelier over to your side, hold up the menu to him and say, “I want something like this”, whilst pointing to a price you’re comfortable with. He should pick up the hint and you should have no trouble picking up the tab! Sommeliers are trained to understand the subtle cues offered by guests; being price-sensitive is perfectly acceptable. In fact, if you provide no indication of your budget, you are likely to be persuaded to drink expensive wines since sommeliers are, after all, in-charge of showing increased wine revenues. So, don’t be shy to indicate your price range.
The Urgent Call Trick
I once had a friend who often used this trick. When caught in an unanticipated wine-ordering situation and confused about the wine brands on the list, he would pretend to attend to an urgent phone call. He would step out, quickly surf the internet for the wine information and then come back and pretend to have an insight into the wine ordered. Sneaky but clever!
But you don’t even have to do that. There are several apps that you can download on your mobile phone, which will give you the required information about the wine within seconds of scanning the label. Why hide when you can show off your advanced wine knowledge about the wine apps?
The Hidden Note Trick
To a real wine enthusiast, it makes sense to maintain a diary of the wines that they have tasted and enjoyed. This becomes a record of what the wine names were and the price paid, along with brief tasting notes - perfect for someone who enjoys their wines but has trouble remembering names of producers or regions. Over time, this practice of writing tasting notes enables you to build a vocabulary of wine names and the qualities you enjoy in a wine and you will be able to spot the same in a wine list instantly. Thus building familiarity with wine names and styles over time, eases the stress of ordering wine. However, try not to order the same wine each time. Life is too short to keep drinking the same damn wine!
There! Who says that you know nothing about wine! And even if you don’t, a dash of confidence and authority is enough to have anyone think you’re god’s gift to wine!