ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am new to wine tasting. If I want to order a wine from a restaurant, what would my question be? I mean, should I ask them to pour me a glass of wine, or may I have a glass of wine, etc.? Please help me.

—Chirag, India

Dear Chirag,

Even though you might be nervous when you begin to order wine in a restaurant, it shouldn’t be that complicated—it’s just a drink order, after all. Just do it when you’d normally order your beverage. I usually just say, “I’d like a glass of (insert wine name), please.” If you’re not sure how to pronounce the name of the wine you’re ordering, you could just point to your choice on the list and say, “I’d like a glass of this, please.”

If you’re unsure about which wine to choose, it’s OK to ask your server for a recommendation. I imagine just about all restaurants that serve wine have at least a choice of red and white, and some might also have rosés and sparkling wines. You might say, “Could you recommend a glass of white wine?” or “Which red wine by the glass do you think would be best with this dish?” If there are a lot of selections and you’re worried about the price they might charge you, you could still ask for a recommendation and point to a price on the wine list, mentioning that you’d like to keep it around that range.

Some restaurants with better wine service might then show you the bottle and pour a taste for you. They’ll just give you a splash, and you’re expected to take a sip and let them know you think the wine is fine (not flawed). If the wine is fine, I usually smile and nod and say, “That’s fine, thank you,” and then they’ll pour the glass. If you don’t like the taste that you’re served, it’s OK to ask if they can recommend something else.

—Dr. Vinny


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