Going out to dinner and enjoying a glass of wine or two is an awesome way to spice up the mundanity of a week or celebrate the weekend. Many restaurants, especially Italian restaurants like staff favorite In Vino, offer both a delicious variety of plates and wines. The problem is, while ordering food comes pretty easy to most of us, ordering wine can often be intimidating. Sometimes wine lists are short, but more extensive selections can span for pages, resembling a novella of choices. Just how do you go about reading this novella? We enlisted our Chief Wine Geek, Keith Beavers, the owner and beverage director of In Vino, to help us out.

The first thing, as Keith points out, is to realize this is your experience. Like anyone else, servers and somms need to make money, so they will suggest wines at a moderately high price point. Don’t be ashamed to tell your server or somm the price range you’d like to stay within early on, before (s)he gives you suggestions. Another thing to realize is that the more info you give your server or somm about what you want to drink, the better they can help you out. A good server/somm should have enough working wine information to be able to guide you toward the right wine based on the descriptors you give. This could mean anything from “red wine” to “something that tastes like strawberries.” Your server/somm will probably ask you a few questions to narrow the choices down. Don’t worry about sounding smart, just answer honestly as best you can. There are no wrong answers, only poor wine communications!

When the wine comes, you’re now faced with another conundrum: do you taste the wine? And what do you do if you don’t like it? Find out on next week’s edition of Owning It At A Wine Bar!