Don't be afraid to admit you're not sure what to order
When perusing the wine list in a restaurant, most of us will admit we haven’t really got a clue what we’re looking for and usually end up going for the second cheapest by default.
But waiters say there's a really simple way to improve the wine you're served in restaurants; be brutally honest about your situation.
Wine expert Robert Bohr says you shouldn't be afraid to admit if you want to keep things cheap because you just want to get drunk with some friends - or admit that you want to be particularly flash to impress family members.
He gave the examples: “‘I’m out with my college buddies and we just want to have a bottle of wine because we want to drink,’ or ‘I’m out with my in-laws and I want to kind of show off a little bit,’ or ‘I’m with my in-laws and I DON’T want to show off’ - these are all going to require different bottles."
The other key thing is to stop being vague, and get really specific about the tastes you like.
Everything from which types of wines you've tried and enjoyed, if there are wines from a certain country that you prefer, or simply if there are attributes that are important to you such as fruitiness. If you explain what you like, any good server will be able to recommend something.
It’s crucial not to be embarrassed about admitting you’re not sure what to order or afraid the waiter will judge you on your tastes: “Don’t worry about looking like an amateur,” Bohr told Lucky Peach.
The trouble is, if you’re trying to impress on a first date, everyone wants to come across like a cultured, sophisticated adult who knows their Sauvignon from their Chardonnay.
But Bohr says we mustn’t be afraid to ask, because that’s how we’ll end up drinking something we don't enjoy.
However the trouble is that most people think restaurants are just trying to exploit them through their wines: “Right now, everyone still thinks they’re getting f***ed when it comes to wine,” Bohr says, but he wants the hospitality industry to focus more on making people happy than making money.
Bohr also explains that most restaurants store wine incorrectly and he has particular contempt for ones that keep it above their coffee machines: “Serving warm red wine exacerbates the perception of the alcohol in the wine and makes the tannins seem coarser - the wine feels disjointed and bad,” he says.
So even if you don’t know much, at least you’ll be able to appear a wine snob with regards to storage next time you’re trying to impress your dinner companions.