Tag Archives: ordering wine in a restaurant

Is it Okay to Bring Your Own Wine into a Restaurant?

This is a followup on the last post on what to do when the server brings your wine to the table. Some people like to bring their own wine into a restaurant and it’s very common here in the San Francisco Bay Area. But it’s always best to call ahead and ask about the policy: 

Do you feel comfortable bringing wine into a restaurant? Do any of you restaurateurs want to weigh in on the subject? 

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Restaurant Wine Service

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Question from Mike: What am I supposed to do when the wine comes at a restaurant? I’m okay ordering it but I get really embarrassed when the waiter gives me the cork and all that.

Reply: Hi, Mike. I’ll be a lot of people will be really glad you wrote to ask. It can be a little intimidating.  

The most important thing to remember is that you’re the customer and the server really wants you to be happy so don’t worry about any potential faux pas. Here’s how it goes:

The server brings the wine to the person who ordered it and shows it to him/her. Go ahead and check the label to double check that you got what you ordered. 

The most common mistake is that the wrong vintage comes to the table. If so, you might ask your server if there’s a significant difference between the vintages. For myself, if the wine is from California or some other warm climate situation, I don’t worry too much about the vintage. If it’s European, the vintage can play a bigger role. Ask the server. If the restaurant’s any good at all, he’ll probably offer you a taste. If you do a lot of dining out you might download a vintage chart. Here’s one from Robert Parker. And one from Wine Spectator. Continue reading

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Ordering Wine at a Restaurant

Jason asked what to do about the wine order when everyone is eating something different. Here are some suggestions that have worked out well for me: 

What are your favorite restaurant wines? Got any additional tips? 

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Ordering Wine With Friends

Question from Jason: How do you know what wine to order when everyone is eating something different?

Reply: There are several ways to go on this. The simplest option is to order by the glass so everyone is happy. The only thing to watch out for is the price. Some restaurants really clean up with their by the glass program.

All you need to do is ask the server how many ounces in a pour – it can vary quite a bit. There are about 25 ounces in a bottle so if you do the math you can see if it’s a fair price or not. Half bottles usually cost a little more than half the price of the full bottle.

If you want to order a bottle for the whole table ask around to see if folks are leaning toward white or red.

For reds, the wines that aren’t too heavy with moderate alcohol, tannin and oak are the most versatile. For instance: Pinot Noir and Beaujolais types. The Bourgueil and Chinon of the Loire Valley in France are good options. Or maybe Barbera or Dolcetto from northern Italy. I know that Valpolicella has a reputation as pop wine – but there’s a real quality renaissance going on these days and it has a lot going for it in this situation. It’s a light red with a good, solid acidity and it’s fizzy. Sparkling wine is very versatile!

For whites, you’ll want to go with something that has some body and good acidity. Cool-climate Chardonnay sounds like just the ticket: white Burgundy and Finger Lakes or New Zealand Chardonnay come to mind. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is quite assertive and has good acidity. For sparkling wine, which is the most versatile wine of all, you could go with a rosé or Blanc de Noirs for added body.

I hope that helps and bon appétit! 

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