Do you dread the moment you’re passed the wine list when taking clients out for dinner?
Many people do, but by learning a few keys regions, grape varieties and food matches, you can keep a few aces up your sleeve. Here’s our top tips on how to decipher the wine list and order the best wines for your meal:
Old World or New World?
After separating wines by Sparkling, Red and White, many restaurants will divide their wine list in two: the Old World and the New World. The Old World consists of old wine-producing countries, for example: France (Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy regions), as well as Spain and Italy. The labels for these wines will often list the region from which the wine comes, rather than the grape variety (e.g. ‘Bordeaux’, rather than ‘Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot’).
Countries such as the USA (California and Oregon regions), as well as Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, began producing wines much later than the Old World and don’t have to comply with as many regulations when it comes to wine production, compared to the Old World. Wines from this region typically will put the name of the grape varietal(s) on the label.
Big Reds or Light Whites?
Ask your guests which style of wine they prefer. When people talk about wine, they tend to describe textures rather than flavours: ‘I love big reds’, for example. Here’s a classic white and red to get under your belt:
Chablis is a crisp, light white wine made from the Chardonnay grape and comes from the region to which it lends its name in France. The Spanish region of Rioja produces world-class red wines made from the Tempranillo grape. It’s medium-bodied and is very food-friendly.
Which Dishes Are Your Guests Ordering?
The right wine complements and enhances food. That’s why it’s essential you know what food your guests are ordering.
For salads, white fish and chicken dishes, a zingy Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Gris will lend some delicious lemon citrus flavours to the dish. For red meat, a heavier wine such as a classic red Bordeaux or Malbec will stand up to a steak.
Want to learn more on formal dining and wine? Our Business Dining Basics course includes an introduction to wine basics, as well as a guided formal meal.