Sunday, 14 October 2012

Are you too scared to order wine in a restaurant?

According to the French Wines with Style Report it appears we British are a bunch of scaredy-cats when it comes to ordering wine in a restaurant, with just 12.4% of us being confident of selecting the right wine when ordering in a restaurant, and over a quarter (25.8%) passing the buck to our mates rather than risk making a faux pas.

Surprisingly however, although we are a nation of ditherers at the wine list, we also don’t take advantage of the help to hand, with only 20.8% saying that we would ask the advice of the waiter, the rest presumably being prepared to close their eyes and point to any random beverage on the wine list!

France is the most popular country of choice for Brits when choosing wines in a restaurant, with nearly one quarter of Brits opting for their near-neighbour wine-producers (24.1%) when perusing the wine list. Australia (18.6%) and Italy (13.4%) take the second and third place podiums.

Gerard Basset OBE, arguably one of the greatest wine professionals of his generation and reigning World Champion Sommelier, comments:

“People can often be overwhelmed when looking at a wine list. It is important not to feel intimidated. When you are eating out, the experience is all about your enjoyment. If you know about wines, then great; but if you are confused or uncertain about which wine to choose, then take advantage of the help to hand. The waiter or sommelier is there to help.”

Basset also underlines some handy tips to remember when choosing wines:

• If you taste a wine try to define it by style: light-, medium-, full-bodied or aromatic:
o Generally delicate, light foods are better with light or medium wines; heavy dishes with heavier wines; and aromatic wines with spicy foods
• Use the tasting notes on the wine list to guide you
• Wait until everyone has ordered their meals before choosing the wine – that will help you decide on a match or matches
• Set a price bracket for the wine you select and stick to it – there will be fewer choices to make
• Don’t forget to check out the wines by the glass offer – often people choose very different dishes around a table – it might be better to order individual wines for each dish

And if you are ordering French then simplify: try to remember the approximate guidelines for the French regions which break down into the following style groups:

Reds:
• Light styles: Loire, Beaujolais, Burgundy
• Medium styles: Rhone, Bordeaux
• Full bodied styles: Languedoc-Roussillon, South West
Whites
• Light styles (fresh and crisp): Loire; Bordeaux, Chablis
• Medium styles (smooth): Languedoc-Roussillon, South West, the rest of Burgundy
• Aromatic styles: Alsace

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