Ordering Wine On A Date

Our studies show that women like wine.  It is their favorite alcoholic beverage.  So when you are on a dinner date, ordering wine smoothly will go far. If you are a regular wine drinker, then this will not be a big deal, but there are some Suddenly Solos who might need a little refresher.

• If possible, check out the wine list in advance of your date.  It will make it easier on you when you show up “for real!”

When on your date, ask your lady if she has any preferences concerning wine.  She may have a favorite that will make life a bit easier for you. If she doesn’t care, then ask her what she plans on ordering for her meal, then follow these guidelines:

  • Drink white wine with light fish dishes (cod, tilapia, etc.) and shellfish…go with a light-bodied white wine. Safe bets: Pinot Grigio, Sancerre or Sauvignon Blanc (California, South Africa, New Zealand).
  • Drink red wine for light meat and poultry dishes, salmon, meaty dishes, and heavy tomato sauces. Safe choices: California Red Zinfandel, California Pinot Noir, Bourgogne Rouge, Barbera, Dolcetto.
  • Drink white wine or sparkling wine with spicy foods and pastas with a vegetable or cream sauce.

These, of course, are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Don’t focus too much on the type of meat, since the sauce and preparation matter far more. In general, the lighter the food, the lighter the body of wine you want. Salty and well-seasoned foods pair well with bigger red wines, especially oaked wines. Off-dry or sweet wines are better with spicy food and dessert.

Spend what you are comfortable with. The most expensive wines are not necessarily what you will enjoy the most.  Chose two or three in your range and ask the sommelier which he/she recommends. Even if they don’t recommend one of the wines you choose, they’ll know what you’re willing to spend. Avoid ordering house wines as they are generally chosen for the value to the restaurant and you will likely do better, dollar for dollar, with a bottle of your own choosing.

As for the presentation, confirm you got what you ordered by examining the label.  Examine the cork. It should be dry at one end.  If it crumbles, there may be problems.  Likewise if it is uniformly soggy.  Don’t bother smelling the cork . . . it doesn’t really tell you enough to make a decision.  Definitely sniff the aroma of the tasting pour in your glass and then taste it to be sure.  If you think the wine is bad (it happens!), have your date taste it, since it’ll be even more awkward if you notice that the wine has turned after the server has left. You can even have the sommelier taste it.  Don’t feel guilty about returning a bad bottle.


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