Do You Know How to Order Wine Like an Expert?

Lauren Powell
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The cheapest? The coolest? Or maybe the easiest to pronounce name? We’ve all been there. Deciphering the complex details of a wine list has certainly gotten the better of each of us at one point in time. 

We’ve called on Lisa McGuigan of Lisa McGuigan Wines to assist in making the next wine list we encounter look a little less like it’s in a foreign language.

These six steps will have you ordering at ease and confidence at your next outing.

1. Most importantly, know what you like in a wine. For example, in white varietals I like a wine that is minerally and dry like Pinot Gris or a lightly oaken Chardonnay, and when I drink red, I like Pinot Noir that is dirty and textured.

2. When you are selecting wine to pair with a particular dish, food or course like an entrée, start light and work your way to heavier wines. As an example, start with Semillon, then go for a Pinot Gris and then to an oaked Chardonnay. For reds, start with Pinot Noir and then move onto a Shiraz.

3. When choosing from a particular region, select a varietal that the region is best known for. If you are in a restaurant, ask the sommelier or waiter their suggestions and advice based on regions. Here are the iconic varietals from a select of our favourite wine regions.

Hunter Valley: Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz

Clare Valley and Eden Valley: Riesling and Shiraz

Mornington Peninsula: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Tasmania: Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

4. Remember, if you’re going for price point, you get what you pay for. However, the most expensive wine isn't necessarily always the best. When selecting from a wine list, try not go for the cheapest or most expensive, opt for the middle ground.

5. If you’re choosing a bottle of wine in a restaurant and you’re leaning towards one that is also listed by the glass, don’t be shy ask for a taste before you decide on a bottle to make sure you’re happy with your choice before you commit.

6. Not all varieties age well so if you are selecting from wines that have age, the best varieties are Riesling, Semillon white varietals and Chardonnay for whites and Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon for red.

What do you look for when choosing wine? Share with us in the comments below!

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