How to choose wine in a restaurant
The art of choosing the right wine in a restaurant can go from being a challenge to becoming a moment of pleasure. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or are just taking your first steps into the fascinating world of wine, here are some practical tips to help you make well-informed decisions that will allow you to make the very most of your dining experience.
8 tips for choosing wine in a restaurant
1. Know your preferences
Before arriving at the restaurant, take a moment to reflect on your personal preferences. Do you lean towards red or white wines? Do you prefer drier options? Or do you like those that are gentle and sweet on the palate? Are you someone who enjoys a distinct acidity or do you prefer your wine silky and less acidic? Or maybe bubbles are more your thing... Every detail matters. Don't worry too much, because nobody is judging you – on the contrary, the more detail you can give about what you’ve tried and like, the better they’ll be able to advise you and the happier you’ll be with your choice.
2. Consider the food
The perfect pairing of wine and food can elevate your dining experience. If you’ve already decided which dish you want to order, check the wine list and look for pairing suggestions. General wisdom says that red wines go well with red meats, while white wines complement fish and poultry. However, it has been shown that this need not always be the case. Part of what makes wine so great is also its versatility. Rather than whites or reds, think intense or light wines. An intense wine can overshadow a dish with mild flavors, but a light wine, either white or red, can accompany it harmoniously. The same goes for a dish and a wine with similar levels of intensity.
3. Don't be afraid to ask
If you’re unsure which wine to choose, don’t hesitate to ask the sommelier or restaurant staff for recommendations. They are there to help you and can offer valuable suggestions based on your preferences and the menu you have chosen. Take advantage of their knowledge and enhance your gastronomic experience.
4. Explore varieties and regions
If you visit a restaurant that offers traditional food from a particular country or geographical area, make the most of the opportunity to try something new and broaden your wine-tasting horizons, as regional pairings are always a hit!
Keep in mind that dishes and wines belonging to the same region usually harmonize wonderfully, so choose a wine from the same area as your dish and success is guaranteed!
5. Establish a budget
Before you begin examining the wine list, set yourself a budget. This will help you limit your options and avoid unpleasant surprises when the bill arrives.
6. Don't choose according to price alone
A high-priced wine does not always guarantee an exceptional experience. As with any product, the fact that a wine is more expensive does not guarantee that you will like it. Explore options within your budget and discover true wine gems at affordable prices.
And if you want to give yourself a well-deserved treat, remember to share your preferences with the restaurant staff so that they can recommend the best option for you based on your tastes.
7. Choose wines by the glass
If you visit a wine bar or restaurant that, in addition to a wide selection of bottles of wine, also offers wine by the glass, make the most of the possibility of playing with the offer to pair the different dishes on your menu with different wines.
Some places even allow you to taste a little wine first, so you can be sure that you’re making the right choice while also enjoying delicious wine gems that are waiting to be discovered.
8. Make use of new technologies
Nowadays, it’s very common for all of us to be able to use our smartphone to consult what a new wine is like and what opinions others have about it before we decide to buy it in a store or order it at a restaurant. But don't just rely on ratings from other consumers.
Check to see whether the characteristics of the wine reviewed in each comment match your tastes and if they are reaffirmed by various users. This will give you a closer clue as to what the wine might be like and if it matches what you are looking for.
Remember that you can also check out the tasting cards we offer at Decántalo where we provide tasting notes, profiles, pairings and extensive information on a wide variety of wines and sparkling wines.
Choosing wine in a restaurant doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. With these tips, you can turn the experience into an opportunity to explore and enjoy new flavors.
Whether you’re an experienced wine lover or a beginner, each choice is an adventure in itself. And remember, the most important thing is not how much you do or don't know about wine, but what kind of wines you really enjoy and like. And, from time to time, why not let yourself be surprised? Cheers and bon appetit!