Hi I'm Ray Isles from Food and Wine magazine, senior wine editor and I'm here to talk about how to order wine off a restaurant wine list and get a great deal at the same time.
There are a couple of key things to know about ordering wine off a restaurant wine list. One of the first is that there's a tried and true old rule, you get the best value is you order the second wine from the bottom of the list. It's not true. It doesn't make the slightest bit of difference. If you're in a good restaurant with a good list, then the sommelier will stand by every single one on that list.
First off, ask the sommelier or ask the wine buyer. Ask the server if the server seems to know what they're doing. Those people know the wines and they'll suggest foods and wines that go well with the food you are ordering.
Second thing to do, watch out for older vintages of white wine. Generally speaking white wines can age, but the majority of wines in a restaurant are there for drinking now and you want white wines that are of a recent vintage.
Third tip to think about: watch out for the famous names and watch out for the famous grape. You're going to pay more if you buy cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley than if you buy, let's say, a merlot from Chile. Or even if you buy a syrah from Napa Valley. Pretty much the premier grapes in the premier regions are always an up-charge on a restaurant wine list.
Finally, one thing to think about is not so much maximizing your cash-flow question, but maximizing your eating experience. My two go-to grapes for food pairing are pinot noir for red wines. Pinot noir goes great with almost everything. It's a perfect fall-back grape if you have any questions about what to get. And for white wines actually dry Reisling, not a sweet Reisling, but a dry Reisling is one of the most adaptable food-wine pairing grapes around.
So those are my tips for how to maximize your wine buying experience at a restaurant. I'm Ray Isles, senior wine editor for Food and Wine magazine for howdini. Thanks.