How to Choose Wine at a Restaurant


Choosing wine at a restaurant can be an exercise in confusion, especially those multiple page wine lists where some (if not most) of the varieties may be unfamiliar. The right bottle can make the meal, but how much do you need to spend and how can you make sure you are getting the right drop to match your meal? Read on for the secrets to savvy wine selections in a restaurant setting.

1.     Don’t Rush The Decision

Your waiter may ask not long after you are seated, but if you haven’t had the chance to peruse the list, or thought about what you are going to have for your main meal, it’s worth ordering a aperitif, sparkling water, or just requesting some table water to mill things over. Ideally wines are best matched with certain foods. Broadly speaking, reds accompany grilled meats and tomato based dishes, where whites are suited to poultry and seafood. If you’re having multiple courses, wine by the glass may be worth considering to suit each meal.

2.     Ask for Recommendations

If you stuck with an unfamiliar list – and that can be common – don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations in your price point. If this is something you’d rather keep discreet from the table, point to the price rather than announce the name. Your sommelier’s job is to describe the taste and which meals will complement each option. Don’t be shy to extract this information – waiters in good restaurants love to talk wine!

Be open to different blends away from the Shiraz and Chardonnay, there’s nothing wrong with these, but often there is a grape better paired to what you are eating. The opportunity to discover the complexities and delicate notes of other varieties in your price range should not be overlooked.

3.     Most Expensive Does Not Mean Best

The most expensive wine is not necessarily an indication of the best wine quality. It’s often a reflection of the market placement by the wine maker. Be cautious with the cheapest bottles however. They are often on the list purely to give diners an affordable option, but if you’re looking for something to really take the dish to the next level they will often fall short. If the restaurant has  a house wine, avoid this. It’s probably cheap, but it’s been marked up to make a profit and usually isn’t the quality that you’ll want to really add to the dining experience.

4.     Look Online Before Arriving

Most restaurants have their wine list somewhere online. Look into this before arriving and get a sense of what’s on offer. This can be followed up with further research including reading reviews of the different varieties and the maker to see what the consensus is.

Moda Restaurant has one of Brisbane’s most extensive wine lists, with a range of award winnings blends and varieties from around the world. Ask us for a sample tasting on your next visit, and dine with some of the best wine around, raising your Brisbane restaurant experience to new heights.  Salud!


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