How to Fake Your Way Through a Wine List in 4 Easy Steps
So you got a great job straight out of college, you haven’t burned down your apartment trying to boil water, and your checking account has more than 50 bucks in it— it’s safe to say you are successfully “adulting”.
But what do you do when your wine-loving coworkers invite you to a new wine bar after work but you have no knowledge about wine? Don’t freak out. Here is a quick and helpful guide that will have you ordering wine like a boss.
Ask Yourself Red or White?
Both west and east coast states seem to prefer red wines, while the middle states prefer whites, according to statistics from Nakedwines.com, a popular online wine merchant.
If you need help deciding, check out this article by April Walloga from Business Insider. It is a good point of reference, but the choice is entirely up to you; both wine styles are courage inducing.
Narrow Down the Options
When looking at most wine lists you’ll notice some basic information: The winemaker, the wine’s grape varietal, and where the wine is from.
Don’t get confused by all those details and knock out what I call the Big 3. The Big 3 are the most popular wine styles: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Anyone can choose a Big 3 wine with their eyes closed, so you are not going to impress anyone ordering any of those wines today. If you look at the example here, removing the Big 3 knocks out more than half the wine list.
Go ahead and exhale because this just got a whole lot easier.
Get a Smart Tasting
You should be left with at least 2 other wine options. Here is where you can ask the waiter a wine savvy question that looks like you’re vacillating between choices, rather than floundering for help. You can say, “I’m torn between the ____ and ____. Can I have a tasting to help me decide?”
That’s using a lifeline like a ninja.
Assess the Wine Like a Pro
- Hold the stem of the glass, never the bowl.
- Lift and tilt the glass and comment on the wine’s color. Use as many descriptors as you can muster. For example, “What a beautiful garnet red” or “That is a lovely shade of deep blackberry”.
- Set the glass firmly on the table and swirl the wine for about 5 seconds to introduce air into the wine; this awakens all its flavors and makes the wine taste better I promise. Oh, and you’ll look really sexy doing it.
See also: How to Swirl Wine
- Put your whole nose inside the glass as pictured (lifted pinky finger optional) and take a deep breath. Try not to inhale the wine. Though funny, it is very painful (Do not ask me how I know that). What do you smell? Maybe just wine? Maybe more? Let your senses explore.
- Take a small sip of wine and roll it around in your mouth. Take your time here and add a look of deliberation for effect. Finally, choose the wine that tastes the best to you.
So there you go, a quick and easy way to display some basic wine knowledge that is sure to impress, and possibly get you an ill-advised date with a coworker. If you’re interested in diving further into wine, here is one of my favorite resources, and it’s a New York Times Best Seller Wine Folly The Essential Guide to Wine.
One more thing, this is not a technique you want to use at a three Michelin star restaurant like The French Laundry or Eleven Madison Park— wine lists of that caliber are over a hundred pages long… on an iPad. But I do hope this tutorial has enticed you to want to learn more about wine. So get out there, have fun, and please drink responsibly.