How do you order a glass of red wine? I want to try Zinfandel but I’m not sure how to word it.

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

How do you order a glass of red wine? I want to try Zinfandel but I’m not sure how to word it.

—Renaye, Chicago

Dear Renaye,

Ordering a glass of wine doesn’t have to be complicated. Just look for the word “Zinfandel” on a wine list (or point to a wine if you’re not sure how to pronounce it). If you don’t see a wine list or find it hard to understand (or there are a few options), you can say, “I’d love a glass of Zinfandel. What do you recommend?”

This line works even if there isn’t Zinfandel on the wine list. Say you’re in a restaurant that only serves Spanish wines. You can just say you are in the mood for something like a Zinfandel, and ask what wine on their list they think is closest to that.

Servers, bartenders and sommeliers are incentivized to make sure you’re happy, so remember they are on your side. I don’t think you have to worry that someone will misunderstand you and serve you a white Zinfandel (I don’t see many of them on wine lists these days). But if that’s your concern, you can always add a note about how you’re in the mood for a “robust red” like a Zinfandel, and that should get your message across.

Zinfandels aside, you can always ask for help in selecting a wine. Ask for a red wine to go with the dish you ordered, or tell them you’ve been drinking a lot of Merlots lately and you want to try something different, or say you’ve been meaning to learn about the wines of Spain, where do they recommend you start? They might ask some follow-up questions, but if you’re not sure how to answer, you can ask them what their favorite wine to recommend is, or what’s one of the most popular wines they sell. Don’t feel like you have to describe a wine’s flavors or smells if you’re not comfortable with the lingo.

—Dr. Vinny

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