Friday, November 8, 2013

Look Great Ordering Wines at a Fine Restaurant Or Steakhouse

So, there you are - sitting at that fine restaurant, surrounded in dark mahogany and leather, your loving significant other looking at you adoringly; and a 25lb book of wines sitting in front of you. "So, honey - what wine should we have with our dinner?" 12,238 different red wines from 892 countries broken down into 3,348 different categories, and no, you are not intimidated. Of course not, you read this article first.

And I am not kidding about the wine list. We were in a great, steak restaurant in Orlando and I was looking at a wine list - no make that a wine book, which had a list that included wines from every region of the world. I asked the sommelier where they kept all that wine. He pointed to all the booths. Underneath the seats, above alcoves, they had wines stuffed in every nook and cranny of the restaurant.

By the way, I had a beautiful boutique wine from Washington State. It was 2002 Syrah from Yakima Valley. That wine was so intense; the color was nearly black, it was deep! My first taste knocked me out of my seat. It knocked the guy seating at the table next to me out of his seat. A full minute after I drank it, the Syrah still lingered in my mouth. Unbelievable.

How did I know to pick this beauty that thoroughly impressed my loving, beautiful wife (who is reading over my shoulder right now); I asked the sommelier if he had a new listing that he just loved. So, that is the first way to navigate your way through some of the ridiculously long lists that are out there.

So, let us say that you want to impress your date. One method would be to call ahead. Ask for a recommendation for what you plan on having, and also within a price range. Armed with that knowledge, you can effortlessly order away.

If calling ahead is not an option, then consider these points:

• For starters, pay no attention to all those who say, "Drink what you want - red with red and white with white is baloney." That bit of advice is more harmful than good, in this situation.

• There is a reason behind the old recommendations. The tannins in red wine complement meat dishes by cutting through the fat and cleansing the palate. Syrah has a gamey, earthy feel to it and with its tannin make it great match for steaks.

• Think of fish dishes, they always come with a wedge of lemon; which we promptly squeeze over the fish. The acidity brightens the fish. White wines are acidic. It lacks the tannins that can overpower a light fish dish.

• Think of where the dish you are ordering came from. If you are having Italian, think Italian wines. If you are having German, think German wines. In general, think European wines as European wines have always been crafted to be had with meals. If you are having Thai, think beer.

• Think like to like. If you have a sweet dish, think sweet. If you having a sour dish, think acidity.

• And there are exceptions. A meaty, oily salmon pairs well with an acidic, lighter bodied Pinot Noir (red wine with some acidity). But do not let the exceptions throw you - think like to like.

So, as you look at the wine list, again ask but this time; ask, "Well, we plan on having the seared lamb chops and the veal porterhouse. Could you make a couple of recommendations for red wines that have a gamey feel to it that would compliment what we are having?" Or you will ask, "I think we will be having the grilled mahi-mahi with panko crust and the seared ahi tuna. Could you recommend a couple of white wines that have a nice acidity to it that can complement our dishes without overpowering it?"

I assume that your server or sommelier will be savvy enough to understand and recommend an inexpensive wine and an expensive wine so that you can choose. If not, good luck.

Okay, so the truth is you are not going to learn enough in any article to allow you to navigate a great wine list or book on your own. What you can do is learn the basics of food pairings. Like wines for like foods will always serve you well.

Beyond that, you must utilize the expertise of the person or people who put that list together. They did it with pride and will gladly share their knowledge with you. But to get the best advice, you must ask good questions. To formulate good questions, again, you must learn the basics. That is all. And you will do fine.

Do not ask, "So what red wine can I have with this?"

H. Kim has been up and down the corporate ladder so much, he's on first name basis with each rung. Which is a good thing, because it lets him use all the successes, and more importantly the mistakes he's made, on his blog, [http://www.LandingOnYourFeet.com], a job seeker's helper blog
Strategies, Tips and Advice, a few laughs and a couple of words of wisdom, not to mention a pithy saying or two, are all it is. Visit him today and sign up for his free newsletter at [http://www.landingonyourfeet.com/submit]. Every edition has great tips, articles, and EBooks. Or just come on over; take a look; and drop him a note. He also evidently thinks he knows a thing or two about wines. One very, very small thing.
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