By now wine bars have become ubiquitous across the country. And while all of them may not be “real” wine bars, the ones that are can be pretty incredible places to discover new wines, or get better acquainted with old favorites. But they can also be intimidating, stuffy and confusing. And that means mistakes will be made. Here are seven of the most common mistakes, and how you can avoid them.
You Aren’t Asking For A Sample
Asking for a sample when you’re at a craft beer bar or an ice cream parlor is pretty common, but for some reason we feel like when it comes to wine, that’s not an option. But if the wine you’re interested in is available by the glass – even if you’re interested in the bottle option – and you’re feeling a little uneasy about your selection, you should ask to taste it first. Don’t go crazy and ask to taste the entire list – that’s the kind of behavior that got your parents dirty looks at Baskin-Robbins when you were a kid – but politely asking to try a glass or two in order to determine the wine you’d like to order is completely acceptable. If the bottle is already open they are usually happy to oblige.
You And Your Friends Are All Ordering The Same Glass
We get it, you and your companions are all Pinot fans and there is only one Pinot by the glass on the list, so that’s what you’re all getting. But by doing that, you’re missing out on the opportunity to share and try something new. Think of the by-the-glass program at a wine bar like a tapas bar. The fun thing about having so many options by the glass is that you get an opportunity to taste different things. If you’re friendly, you could even ask your server for extra glasses so you don’t have to swap germs. The bar shouldn’t have an issue with this as long as each of you order a full glass and then split them. However, don’t ask for the extra glasses if they’re slammed — they’re probably in need of them!
If You’re All Ordering The Same Thing, You Aren’t Trading Up To A Bottle
OK, so if you don’t want to each try different wines, that’s fine, but then at least take advantage of the built-in savings by trading up to a bottle. Even if it’s just you and a friend, if you both want Rioja, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you grab a bottle than if you each order your own glass. And besides, we all know you’re going to have more than one glass anyways. You’re at a wine bar after all.
You Aren’t Trying The Suggested Pairing With The Food You’ve Ordered
Many wine bars offer food, and though that food is usually minimal, they’ve often thought very hard about what dishes would work best with the wines on their list. So if the bar is highlighting a specific pairing, try it out. Wine and food are always great complements, but when a pairing is truly thought out, it can be really fun to observe how your taste-buds and brain react. It will help you understand what all the fuss is about regarding pairing wine and food in the first place.
You’re Not Venturing Off The Beaten Path
Sure, there’s a Malbec on the list and that’s your jam, but we promise if there is an obscure glass or two on the list with which you are unfamiliar, it’ll probably be awesome. Wine bars come in contact with a lot of wine, so if they’re highlighting something obscure, it’s probably because they’re passionate about it. And if you’re still unsure, ask for a taste.
You Aren’t Letting Your Server Geek Out
Yes, sometimes servers can be intimidating and seem snobby, but trust us, for the most part it’s just their excitement getting in the way. These individuals have a ton of knowledge packed into their brains, and they’re eager to share it. So give them a price range, ask them what they’re the most excited about on the list, then let them go wild.
You Aren’t Willing To Say You Don’t Like Something
If you’ve tried the wine and you don’t enjoy it, say something. Especially if it’s a wine that you’ve let your server geek out about and convince you to try. Just because they love it does not mean you have to. You’re at the bar first and foremost to relax, so if the wine doesn’t match the description the server gave you, or if there seems to be something off about it, don’t suffer through a glass you don’t love.