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How to Order Wine Like a Pro

Tips to remember when ordering wine.

Remember these pointers when ordering wine:

1. Taste it first. Before ordering a bottle, have your waiter or sommelier bring the bottle to your table unopened, then have him pour a small amount for you to taste. There’s nothing wrong with sending something back if you’re not comfortable with it.

2. It’s okay to ask your waiter or sommelier a lot of questions! In fact, you probably should! Don’t feel daunted when faced with an extremely long wine list. Specify your taste preferences and see what the sommelier recommends based on this.

3. Always remember to check the vintage (year). A younger wine is typically less expensive.
4. When deciding whether to order by the glass or by the bottle, it really depends on how many people are drinking. If two people are sharing a bottle and plan to have two glasses each or if a group of four plan to have one glass each, then you are definitely getting a better deal if you order by the bottle.

5. Pronunciation is key! Here are some basic wine terms and how to pronounce them so you don’t seem completely clueless.

· Bordeaux ("bore-doe") — any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France.
· Chenin Blanc ("shay-nin blan") — a white wine grape variety from the Loire valley of France.
· Cuvée ("coo-vay") — a French wine term that means vat or tank
· Gewürztraminer ("guh-vurtz-trah-mee-ner") — an aromatic wine grape variety typically used in white wines.
· Meritage ("mar-i-tij") — a brand for red and white Bordeaux-style wines, typically found in the United States.
· Riesling ("rees-ling") — a white grape variety that is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines.
· Sommelier ("so-mel-yay") — someone who is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional.

Ralph Joseph, proprietor of the ubiquitous Ralph’s Wines, gave us a few more tips on wine and a few of his opinions on the world of vino.

What are your favorite types of wine?
"A few favorites of mine—that I believe everyone would love—are Sauvignon Blanc ("soh-vin-yohn blahngk"), Chardonnay ("shahr-dn-ey"), and Riesling for whites, and Merlot ("mur-loh") and Cabernet Sauvignon ("kab-er-ney soh-vin-yohn") for reds. Dessert wines that I love, too, are Moscat or Late Harvest."

Any wine brands that you would recommend?
"A few brands that are affordable and bursting with flavor are Montes (a Chilean wine), Trapiche ("tra-pee-che," an Argentinean wine), and Gossips (an Australian wine)."

Which wine is better? Red or white?
"White wine is definitely more flexible than red wine. White complements most meats. And if you have to remember one thing, it’s red wine with meat and white wine with fish."

Any tips you’d like to give wine newbies out there?
"The best advice I can give anyone looking to learn more about wine is this: Try and try until you figure out what you like. It’s very much like food. If you don’t try and you don’t enjoy, then you won’t know what to choose."

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