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Wine Secrets
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Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
Before you order wine, ask the other diners if they would prefer red or white instead of asking them what they're ordering. Many people don't go by the rules of red with meat, white with chicken, and so forth, so it's best to cut to the chase and find out what they want to drink. Once you've narrowed it down by color, you're on your way to finding something agreeable to all.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
Scan the prices and decide on an amount you're willing to spend on a bottle. Keep your expectations realistic. If you're paying about $25 for a bottle, don't expect it to be a deeply complex wine with great length. At best, you'll get something that shows clean fruit expression, and is pleasant to drink for that price.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
Don't assume all the wines on the list are ready to drink. This means, if there is a $100 red Barolo from a recent vintage, you might find it's a glass full of unimpressive hard work because it will be too tannic—a stoic, impervious, unresolved wine that's completely unwilling to befriend you. Barolos generally don't provide pleasurable drinking until about ten years after their vintage date, and they certainly don't take kindly to impatience.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
A good rule is, if you're considering a wine that's over $50 and it is under five years old, ask the sommelier or on-site wine expert if the wine is ready to drink.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
If there's no sommelier available, ask the waiters your wine questions. They should know the wines they're serving. If not, ask to talk to the person in charge of buying the wines—often the owner or manager. That person will be the onsite wine expert. Don't be shy. These people are there to help you enjoy your meal.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
The best question to ask a sommelier is: What are the best two red or white wines in the [fill in your price] range? Stating your price range is critical because it creates a framework. Then, ask for a description of the recommended wines. This method taps a sommelier's expertise quickly and effectively.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
If the on-site wine expert recommends something unusual, consider the suggestion carefully. Ask why he or she is enthusiastic about that wine and, when you can, give it a whirl. An insider generally has a better idea of what tastes particularly delicious on the list.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
Drink the best wines you can afford at home and more local, less expensive bottles when dining out. This saves you paying fat restaurant markups on great bottles.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
If your dining party is having courses, consider ordering one wine for the aperitif and perhaps the first course, and one or more wines for the courses that follow. Expecting a wine to wear too many hats leads to trouble. And try to remember that the first bottle should always be lighter in body or color than the later wines.

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
Just because the menu says it is Champagne doesn't mean it's the real deal. When in doubt, look at the country and region where it is made. New World countries produce sparkling wines and label them Champagne despite the fact that only wine produced in the region of France called Champagne is true to its name. And there is a world of difference in the real stuff and the impostors. Real Champagne typically tastes something like cooked apples, toast, and butter pastry.

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