Simple tips for wine list navigation

Posted by David Bowley on

Public speaking.
Shane Warne’s Twitter account.
These things are scary. And for many of us, a restaurant wine list is just as scary. 

Red or white? How much should we spend? What the hell is Nerello Mascalese? 

Here are some tips for the next time you're negotiating a wine list.

Chat with the staff.

They probably know about wine or someone working there does. 
If there's a sommelier, ask for their opinions. They’re not only there for wine snobs. 
You’ll never know if you don’t ask them.

Wine Rules

'White wine with fish. Red wine with meat.'  
Let's be realistic and not treat ourselves and our friends like idiots. 
Like the fax machine, sometime around the Howard era that rule was outdated.
Now, match light wines with lighter dishes and more full-bodied wines with heavier food.
Lighter wines are typically Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Nero D'Avola.
Heaver wines might be Marsanne, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet or Sangiovese. 

Cheap and nasty.

People rarely order the cheapest wine. It's psychology. Restaurants know this. 
Usually the options at the lower end have the highest margins. Try to step up from the base level. You'll get vastly better wine and better value. 

Consider going against the grain.

Italian wines are big sellers in Italian restaurants.
French wines are big sellers in French restaurants.
Restaurants know this too. They’re marked up accordingly.
Go for wines from other regions and you could score some exceptional value

There is no wrong answer. 

When it comes to wine, if you can justify it, you're 100% correct. 

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