Wine Riot is an event that aims to take the pretentiousness out of wine culture and lure in millennials with photo booths and grilled cheese hors d’oeuvres.
During the event’s 30-minute crash course, “Old World versus New World Wines,” taught by two sommeliers, I realised just how little I knew about wine.
After the presentation, I pulled aside two sommeliers – master sommelier Robert Jones and Jason Tesauro, who’s also known as The Modern Gentleman – to get their advice on ordering wine with confidence.
Below, see their top three tips, which may come in handy in a situation (on a date, for example) when you want to appear like you know what you’re doing.
1. Let your waiter know your price range — discreetly.
If you’re the one treating your date, both Tesauro and Jones recommended not going over budget just to make it look like you know about wine. Staying in budget is important – and just because a wine is expensive, doesn’t mean you and your date are going to like it.
If you have the wine list in hand, simply turn to the waiter and point to a price within your budget and say, “We’re looking for something within this neighbourhood.”
Your date will have no idea what you’re pointing to, and now you’ve let the waiter know that you’re open to suggestions.
2. Pair your wine with your food dish using geography.
This is one of the simplest tricks in the book. Eating a pasta dish? Choose an Italian wine from the menu. Most menus don’t have descriptions of the wine, but many note the location of the vineyard.
“The easiest food and wine matching is by geography,” Jones said.
“Where did this dish come from? What kind of wine do they make where this dish came from? Chances are it’s going to be a pretty good match. The food and wine evolve together over time.”
3. Order the one wine on the menu that has a seemingly unpronounceable name.
This advice might seem a bit backwards, but Tesauro said, “It is impossible for a wine to be unpronounceable, from a place you’ve never heard of, and be awful. It can only be unpronounceable, from a place you’ve never heard of, and be delicious in order to live on a wine list.”
Tesauro added that using this technique could get you a better bang for your buck. Since most beverage directors know that a majority of guests will be reluctant to order a wine they have never heard of, the restaurant might not price a full mark-up on a glass.
As for saying the name out loud, Tesauro said, “In the era of mansplaining, show [your date] that you’re humble enough to say, ‘How do you pronounce that wine?'”