From the April issue of GQ: The restaurant wine purchase is kinda stressful at the best of times. Wine prices are commonly marked up 300 per cent so not only are you faced by a list of strange names but you have to pay way more than the shop price. Choosing the vino while on a date starts becoming the stuff of nightmares, you desperately perusing the winelist for something affordable but not too dreary while she checks out the hot waiter with the Elvis side-burns. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts to make the experience a little less loaded:
It’s completely acceptable to take your own bottle of wine but as long as it’s not cheap plonk, which would be insulting to both your date and the restaurant.
2. Avoid the house wine
Some restaurants have house wines to be proud of. Most don’t. You’re trying to make a good impression so order something with a label on it.
3. Look for the familiar
A bit boring but you’re meant to be making her feel special. Find something you know and like and you can quickly revert to wooing her.
4. Taste the wine
Once you’ve ordered the wine, the waiter should open it in front of you (basically so that you can be sure you’re getting what you ordered). Taste the wine to be sure that it is fine. Here, just about the only problem that is relevant concerns wines sealed with a natural cork that might appear “corked”. This does not refer to pieces of stray cork getting into the glass – unsightly but not detrimental – but rather to check that the wine has not been infiltrated by an off-tasting chemical, almost always via the cork.
5. Take care concerning wine service
Don’t let a white wine be served too cold as its aromas and flavours will close down – simply ask the waiter to take it off the ice for a while. Don’t let a red wine be served too warm as it will appear volatile – it’s quite all right to ask for it to be put on ice. Hopefully, you’ve taken your date to a classy establishment where the waiting staff will keep glasses topped up but if you want extra intimacy, you can ask for the bottle to be left on the table.
6. Have the right attitude
Don’t be a wine pleb or a wine geek. If you don’t know very much about wine, don’t advertise the fact by saying things like “I can’t understand why anyone would spend over R100 a bottle. It all tastes the same to me”. Not very sophisticated. If you do know something about the stuff, keep it to yourself. Your date is unlikely to be turned on by lengthy diatribes concerning spontaneous fermentation or maturation in new French oak. Most importantly, don’t get drunk – dating can be awkward but be careful to moderate your consumption and stay suave.