Wine List Anxiety

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winelist.jpgBy Robert Farmer

With only one or two exceptions among my decent-sized group of regular dining-out companions, I am always first to grab the wine list. And once I get it, I rarely let it go. Not to say others don't take a look, but instead I tend to keep hold of the list throughout the meal - occasionally prying it open to peruse depending on which stage of the meal we happen to be in.

I love looking at wine lists--the imagination of the sommelier or wine-steward is in full view in these lists, which can range in size and scope from a single-sided sheet of paper, to a handsome, leather-bound book that looks more like an Encyclopedia Britannica. This I know is not the norm. Many people shy away from a wine list like the waiter was waving a plate of liver and onions beneath their nose.

But there are ways to overcome this anxiety. In my estimation, the most important step is to get over the pressure of seeming like you know everything about wine - most especially that you know more about wine than your server. Because there is one aspect of wine about which you most definitely know more than he or she--your own tastes.

So next time you're handed the wine list, accept it eagerly and if you don't happen to spot something you know you like, share your taste preferences with your server --or call over the sommelier--and take advantage of that expertise available to you. Let me tell you, that sort of inquisitive interaction goes a lot further to impress your table mates than simply ordering the second-least expensive bottle of cabernet on the menu.

Got any wine-ordering techniques of your own--please do share them with me!

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