Wine with a cork and opener, plus a wine list chalk board

A few tips for perusing a wine list

Wine list wisdom. How to impress without stress on your next wine list adventure.

WWMD – What would Margaret drink?

Margaret Pearman is a certified sommelier under the Court of Master Sommeliers and is responsible for curating the award-winning wine list at Charlie’s Coastal Bistro. Here are her sipping suggestions for March:

Dining out can be somewhat daunting if you are the one with the wine list. Suddenly you are tasked with picking out the wine of the evening; wanting to impress your guests but perhaps not break the bank. It is easy to blindly point a finger in the $200-plus category and be reasonably sure that the wine will be good. However, the real hidden gems are from the lesser-known regions made by emerging winemakers. This is where sommeliers get excited and usually use a lower margin to entice buyers. I approach a wine list like an easter egg hunt and search for the golden egg that is hiding between the big brands and mainstream categories. Embrace this adventure, and enjoy the thrill of discovering your own “golden egg” in the world of wines. Happy hunting!

Here are a few tips for perusing a wine list:

1. Get out of your comfort zone. Ask the sommelier for something new and different. Don’t be afraid to give a price range and mention a few wines that you regularly enjoy. A good sommelier will be able to decipher your taste profile and find an exciting alternative. 

2. Don’t go straight for the Napa Cabernet section. 

3. Like Napa Cab? Try a Rioja Reserva from Spain. 

4. Like New World Pinot Noir and Chardonnay? Monterrey, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley offer far more bang for the buck than the Oregon and Sonoma Coast. 

5. Like Old World Pinot Noir? Finding a reasonable Village-level burgundy does not happen anymore; look for a Côte de Beaune or a Sancerre Rouge. Better yet, a cru Beaujolais from Brouilly or Juliénas offer incredible bargains. 

6. Like Italy’s bold Barolo and Barbaresco? Try a Nebbiolo from the Canavese region for half the price. 

7. Search the “alternative” white and red section. The obscure Grüner Veltliner could be a great replacement for Chablis. 

8. Look for an older vintage wine that hasn’t been reassessed. 

9. Glance at the wine list ahead of time, so you don’t feel like you are in the spotlight. 

Similar Posts