As we return to our favorite restaurants, having a savvy sommelier or wine steward to guide us through the eatery’s wine list is more important than over.
The whole wine distribution chain was disrupted during the long shutdowns. Many restaurants that routinely restocked whenever new vintages of wine-list favorites were released had no choice but to take a pass. The reasons varied from strictly business (no revenue in meant no revenue out) to the practical (lack of space in the restaurant’s wine cellar).
But as things begin to return to normal, we really appreciate a good meal out with family and friends. And that means great food and great wine to accompany the great conversation.
Here are three ways that sommeliers, wine stewards or knowledgeable servers can help you select the right bottle for the table or the right wines by the glass for individual diners:
1. They know the list.
This comes in particularly handy with a lengthy list, which can be challenging to peruse and assess while simultaneously carrying on two conversations on different topics with your fellow diners. So, don’t be afraid to ask them questions about the list; that’s what they are there for.
2. They know the menu.
Especially for those seeking sublime food-and-wine pairing experiences, this kind of knowledge is critical. Even the way a particular dish is seasoned can influence the wine selection, so it’s good to know as much as you can about both the food and the wine.
3. They know the pricing.
When trying to make an impression on a significant other, a potential S.O., a boss and so on, too many diners take a “spare no expense” approach when ordering wine. That can make for a great dining experience, to be sure, but it also can cause as severe case of indigestion when the bill arrives. There is nothing wrong with telling the sommelier, “We’re looking for a nice bottle of wine in the $40 to $60 range.” That still will be well above retail — common practice in the restaurant industry — but it also will get you a decent bottle without breaking the bank.
If you have a favorite restaurant that you frequent fairly often, make an effort to get to know the sommelier. This should not be difficult because part of their job is getting to know their regulars. Once you develop a relationship defined by mutual trust, you can look forward to many memorable meals to come.