Restaurant Wine

Ever been to a restaurant and been intimated of the wine list? The Chicago Wino has. Pronunciation, cost, and not being certain if you’ll like the wine all play major roles in the fear. There are a few things you can do that will help increase your confidence when ordering and even impress your date (or company).

First, know your budget for wine and don’t be afraid to stick to it. I will familiarize myself with the restaurant’s wine glass/bottle cost so I know what to expect before I walk in the door. Try to stay away from wine you can get at your local grocery store. Although there are many that are just fine (and less risky for your palate) I would encourage you to expand your horizon. Ask your server or the manager what they would recommend. Pay attention to their pronunciation so you can use that in the future. Use the “bin number” next to the wine listing if you’re unsure how to pronounce it or simply ask the server how it is pronounced. It would behoove the server to help, considering they work for tips. They may ask what you are eating (there is a science to pairing food with wine) or inquire what you like in a wine. I have done this many times and got some great information. I even discovered some excellent wines from their recommendations. Sometimes a region may spark my interest. I love Cabs from Washington so if I see one it may be a safer bet for me. If you are ordering a bottle and the restaurant serves it by the glass don’t be afraid to ask for a sample. It’s free and common practice for them to do this. After all, this is how they sell wine!

Lately I have been reviewing wines that are exclusively sold to restaurants (cannot be purchased retail). From doing this I have found some hidden gems (see previous reviews) and hopefully helped you look out for some. Either way I encourage you to explore what’s out there. It is a ton of fun!



I wouldn't exactly call food and wine pairing a science...but...great post. Definitely don't be afraid to ask for a sample if they offer it by the glass. A one-ounce pour is no skin of their nose.

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