Hi Lovelies and welcome back to our Manners Monday series! Let’s begin by talking about wine, shall we? Every classy woman should have some knowledge of wine (as she should several other topics), and even if you never plan to drink a glass yourself for health, personal preference or religious reasons, it’s important to know the basics as you entertain guests in your home, within a restaurant setting or simply to provide a gift for a friend. At the end of the post I’ll be sharing some wine resources so you can read more at your leisure. This book (was recently named a NY Times Best Seller) has become my new favorite! I received a copy in the fall to preview and I love how it’s laid out in a unique way that is both easy and fun to flip though, I highly recommend it, and it also makes for a great housewarming gift!
For those who regularly drink wine and even enjoy heading to the vineyards for wine tastings, you likely have a good handle on the different notes and undertones with a keen sense for what pairs well with various entrees. However if wine is not your preferred drink of choice or you simply do not drink it often (or at all) and find yourself entertaining at a restaurant, you may be wondering how to go about it doing so, since this is one of your responsibilities as the host.
ASK IF YOU’RE NOT CONFIDENT
If you are confident in doing this, always select a wine you like within your price range. If you feel a bit uncomfortable making the selection, you may ask your dinner guests for their preference or the server for suggestions on the best dry white wine or the most popular Cabernet Savignon for example, as they will know their wine list well.
RED vs. WHITE
Take a peek at the restaurant menu and try to order with their specialty in mind such as steakhouse, seafood restaurant, Italian eatery, etc. As a rule of thumb, red wine is the preferred choice to accompany heavier entrees such as red meat, or pasta with tomato sauce. White wines are best selected for poultry, fish, seafood, pasta with light sauces as well as salad dishes. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, at the end of the day as the hostess you can order any wine you please. Do bear in mind though that fruitier wines such as Moscato, Reisling or Zinfandel can be enjoyed anytime however, these and sweet dessert wines are often best enjoyed after the meal in lieu of an actual dessert or to accompany it. When celebrating, champagne is always appropriate both before or after a meal, that is up to yourself and those who have chosen to accompany you.
It’s important to grasp some basic wine terms and types ahead of time to identify a dry white wine from its light and fruity cousin for example. I highly recommend brushing up with a great book on wine or this Beginner’s Guide to Wine Basics on the Wine Folly website which is free and has a plethora of great information.
PROCESS OF ELIMINATION
If the wine list feels quite extensive and you’re having trouble deciding on your own, once you’ve decided upon red or white, start narrowing down what you aren’t interested in. Eliminate the ones that are beyond your budget (it’s a good idea to go in with a rough budget such as $25 for example, it may be increased by ten dollars but at least you’ll have a guideline), also nix the ones that you’ve tried before. It’s nice to experience something different with guests and a great wine can be quite memorable whether you’re celebrating a birthday with friends or entertaining business clients, especially when it’s a good one. If you’re opting to have the server share his recommendations, the best suggestion is to not ask what they recommend. Narrow the wine list down to about 3 choices then instead ask what they can tell you about the wine. At this point they’ll either go into further detail or may need to bring someone else over with more extensive knowledge of the list. I’ve found that body language never lies, listen to what they share but watch how excited they get about each one and you’ll know which one to choose. The same holds true for food items on the menu too!
PRESENT, POUR, TASTE, ENJOY
After ordering, your server will present you with the bottle showing you the label to ensure it is in fact the correct vintage and specific wine you ordered. They will then open it at the table and present the cork to ensure it’s not too dry (something that has now become rare at this time unless you’re ordering an older vintage) as we are experiencing a cork shortage, most new “cork” is man-made from other materials which do not allow one to see the level of dryness. Next, the server will pour a small amount of wine into your glass for tasting where you’ll perform a quick taste test and upon your approval, the server will fill yours as well as all other glasses at the table.
FULL SERVICE vs. SELF SERVICE
White wine is always left tableside in a chiller while red wine is left at room temperature on the table. You may choose to wait for the server to refill glasses or you may take that duty upon yourself. When pouring from a bottle of wine, always be sure to turn the bottle slightly upward upon finishing, to prevent drips that may stain.
Thanks for stopping by!