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Dan Berger: Buying wine in restaurants

Buying wine in a restaurant can be scary.

Many people, when faced with the wine list or the imposing sommelier standing there waiting for the first pronunciation mistake, feel the pressure. Beads of perspiration break out. Neck hairs stand up.

<CW-26>We all spend a good deal of time looking over the menu to decide what to order. That choice is easy. If you don't like kimchi, don't order it. But a glance at the wine list to many is a daunting experience.

</CW><CW-26>At times like these, most of us wish we had 10 extra minutes and a private place to look through the pocket wine guide or glance at the Internet. Instead, most folks hastily pick a wine and pray it will be OK.

</CW>My wine buying strategies for restaurants are fairly complex, and include the following basic rules:

<BL@199,12,11,10>Never buy the cheapest wine on the list. It's usually there to appeal to people for whom price is everything, and the wine will not be a very good value.

</BL><BL@199,12,11,10>Ne<CW-26>ver buy the most expensive wine on the list. It's usually there only for business clients who are on an expense account and who don't care they are getting ripped off since it's the boss' money they're paying with.

</CW></BL><BL@199,12,11,10>Never buy a wine solely on its brand name.

</BL><BL@199,12,11,10>Pay attention to the vintage. Occasionally what is brought is from a year that doesn't jibe with the wine list.

</BL><BL@199,12,11,10>Always look at the non-traditional categories for the best values. (Try Albari? as an alternative to chardonnay, or Argentina malbec instead of merlot.)

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