Welcome to The Real World: Ordering Wine Without Fear

By Bruce Matsunaga

"good wine is a good familiar creature" -Shakespeare

This is a tutorial designed to aid anyone who wants to overcome their fear of ordering wine at a restaurant or just wants to know more about the ritual etiquette that takes place when ordering wine. The learner will develop a knowledge of wine ordering etiquette, be able to use the correct pronunciation of different wines and common terms, and come to an understanding of what wine to choose. You may proceed in a linear fashion or jump to the section you are interested in. Cheers!


Why make a tutorial designed to take the fear out of ordering wine at a restaurant? Personal experience. The first wine I ever bought was a fruit wine with a twist-off cap. Sure I had tried wine at family gatherings and thought it was ok, but wine always seemed like something mysterious and elitist. What was the difference between my $2.99 bottle and the $20.00 bottle on the shelf? I didn't know. I mean really, ordering wine in a restaurant with all those strange names, forget it. And if I did order wine, I knew from the movies that I would have to be put on the spot and smell the cork or something, my wine came with a twist-off!

Well, it has taken some time (and a lot of wine) for me to de-mystify this whole thing about wine, and I think it should be demystified for everyone. No, I am not a wine producer or merchant, just someone who grew to love wine and wants to share that with others. To appreciate wine, is to indulge the senses and to stop for a moment, away from the rush of the daily grind and enjoy life. And anyone can share in this experience. I know the image of the wine connoisseur, "Yes, the nose has a sparkling bouquet of raspberries, falling into a whiff of cedar and leather, underscored by a bed of rosepedals and a hint of black currant fruit. It comes from the Pauillac region of Bordeaux and was produced by Lafite-Rothschild in 1982, an excellent vintage." All this from just a sniff. The reality is that there may be a dozen people in the world that have the nose to do that, but that they can illustrates that wine is complex and that you learn more about its complexity with each sniff and taste. But just because I am not one of those people born with such a nose (allergies you know) doesn't mean that I can't enjoy wine. I mean, I can tell Coke from Pepsi, and Diet Pepsi from the regular stuff. I also know what I like, and what I don't. I think most people are the same way, and that is all you need.

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