Feature photo by cmatsuoka

Taking communion might be the most dramatic food and winFeature photo by cmatsuoka

Taking communion might be the most dramatic food and wine experience you’ll ever take part in. Even if you’re not Christian, the image of priest or pastor feeding the congregants is not only familiar but underlines the powerful symbolism latent in what we throw down the gullet or pie hole or yap. This might explain why there can be so much anxiety around ordering wine as the server begins to look more and more like the high priest of the food and wine cathedral. Or perhaps the intimidation comes from the hymnal or scripture, a.k.a a wine list or a label without descriptions?  Pronunciation? The wine-food pairing possibilities? The swirling? The sniffing? Certainly, there’s just cause for tension. There’s also just cause for sometime much more pleasurable for what’s at hand ultimately involves drinking wine.

Whether in a restaurant or liquor store: The Purchase
You are not alone…unless it’s late and you’re in the wine aisle at your local grocer.  Otherwise, ask someone for assistance and have a conversation. Share what you usually drink, what you like about it and other pertinent information such as if you’re wanting to branch out and try new types of wine. Or fess up that you don’t know anything, and you’re completely overwhelmed. If you have someone capable at your service, they’re advice will be a balm. If you have someone who’s a bit incompetent, you might be in a little trouble. In this case, don’t spend too much money and embrace the adventure. If retail, don’t spend more than $15. Double that if in a restaurant or stick with wine by the glass.

Whether in a restaurant or your own home: The First Pour
This part of the wine experience might be the most intimidating if you’re in a restaurant. Swirling wine in a glass is difficult. And easy way around this is to keep the glass on the table and then do your swirl work. Better yet, don’t swirl at all. What you’re trying to do is simply smell the wine for anything funky or observe the wine for any suspicious coloration. If you’re new at drinking wine, you might have some difficulty with this. Take a look at When Wine Goes Bad for some advice on how to spot these travesties.  Otherwise, sniff, sip and approve the bottle. It’s mostly just a technicality or part of the pomp and circumstance of the wine.

If in a restaurant, the person who ordered the wine becomes the host. This means you are poured the first small pour for assessing purposes. Once you deem the wine worthy, the server should pour wine for everyone else, and then finish with your glass, even if you are a woman.

If in your own home, play around with the smell of the wine for a long time. Delay that first sip for as long as you can handle it. After all, we can smell over twice as many chemicals as we can taste. And so, smell the wine immediately without swirling. Let it sit for a while. Smell it again. Then swirl.  Smell again. Rinse and repeat. If you really want to nerd out, carry out your own glass tasting. Pour the wine in different glasses and enjoy how it smells and even tastes different depending on the size and shape of the glass.

Of Special Note…A perusal online turned up this article: How To Avoid Looking Like A Prick While Ordering Wine. The first line of advice was, “Never, ever listen to servers.” While not all servers are great, it’s technically their job to be able to say something thoughtful about what they serve. Again, have a conversation with the server. You should be able to tell if they know what they’re talking about. If you’ve got one of these apathetic servers, politely ask them if there’s anyone else available to wax poetic about the list. Blame it on yourself, that you have an insatiable curiosity for the details. Blame it on your date. Blame it on the weather. Or just throw caution to the wind, order a glass and spend the next hour assessing for yourself just how it smells, tastes and pairs with the food. If it is way too dry or too sweet for your taste, send it back and try again. Restaurants want to please you, and this sort of exchange is part of the dining experience. And when it comes to developing your palette, even the unsuccessful forays leave you knowing yourself a little bit more.e experience you’ll ever take part in. Even if you’re not Christian, the image of priest or pastor feeding the congregants is not only familiar but underlines the powerful symbolism latent in what we throw down the gullet or pie hole or yap. This might explain why there can be so much anxiety around ordering wine as the server begins to look more and more like the high priest of the food and wine cathedral. Or perhaps the intimidation comes from the hymnal or scripture, a.k.a a wine list or a label without descriptions?  Pronunciation? The wine-food pairing possibilities? The swirling? The sniffing? Certainly, there’s just cause for tension. There’s also just cause for sometime much more pleasurable for what’s at hand ultimately involves drinking wine.

Whether in a restaurant or liquor store: The Purchase
You are not alone…unless it’s late and you’re in the wine aisle at your local grocer.  Otherwise, ask someone for assistance and have a conversation. Share what you usually drink, what you like about it and other pertinent information such as if you’re wanting to branch out and try new types of wine. Or fess up that you don’t know anything, and you’re completely overwhelmed. If you have someone capable at your service, they’re advice will be a balm. If you have someone who’s a bit incompetent, you might be in a little trouble. In this case, don’t spend too much money and embrace the adventure. If retail, don’t spend more than $15. Double that if in a restaurant or stick with wine by the glass.

Whether in a restaurant or your own home: The First Pour
This part of the wine experience might be the most intimidating if you’re in a restaurant. Swirling wine in a glass is difficult. And easy way around this is to keep the glass on the table and then do your swirl work. Better yet, don’t swirl at all. What you’re trying to do is simply smell the wine for anything funky or observe the wine for any suspicious coloration. If you’re new at drinking wine, you might have some difficulty with this. Take a look at When Wine Goes Bad for some advice on how to spot these travesties.  Otherwise, sniff, sip and approve the bottle. It’s mostly just a technicality or part of the pomp and circumstance of the wine.

If in a restaurant, the person who ordered the wine becomes the host. This means you are poured the first small pour for assessing purposes. Once you deem the wine worthy, the server should pour wine for everyone else, and then finish with your glass, even if you are a woman.

If in your own home, play around with the smell of the wine for a long time. Delay that first sip for as long as you can handle it. After all, we can smell over twice as many chemicals as we can taste. And so, smell the wine immediately without swirling. Let it sit for a while. Smell it again. Then swirl.  Smell again. Rinse and repeat. If you really want to nerd out, carry out your own glass tasting. Pour the wine in different glasses and enjoy how it smells and even tastes different depending on the size and shape of the glass.

Of Special Note…A perusal online turned up this article: How To Avoid Looking Like A Prick While Ordering Wine. The first line of advice was, “Never, ever listen to servers.” While not all servers are great, it’s technically their job to be able to say something thoughtful about what they serve. Again, have a conversation with the server. You should be able to tell if they know what they’re talking about. If you’ve got one of these apathetic servers, politely ask them if there’s anyone else available to wax poetic about the list. Blame it on yourself, that you have an insatiable curiosity for the details. Blame it on your date. Blame it on the weather. Or just throw caution to the wind, order a glass and spend the next hour assessing for yourself just how it smells, tastes and pairs with the food. If it is way too dry or too sweet for your taste, send it back and try again. Restaurants want to please you, and this sort of exchange is part of the dining experience. And when it comes to developing your palette, even the unsuccessful forays leave you knowing yourself a little bit more.

Share this! (You know you want to.)

Got something to say? Say it loud!