Sharing wine at dinner is one of the best parts of dining out, but if you aren’t respectful and aware of your dining companions when you order the wine, some might leave the table with hurt feelings and a desire not to dine with you again. No one wants to get to the end of the meal and feel like they are paying more than they intended, or more of the bill than is their fair share. So how do you avoid this occurrence? By setting everything up correctly at the beginning.
If you’re dining with a group the easiest way to deal with the bill at the end of the meal is by splitting the check. Unfortunately, more often than not, when the server arrives to take the order for wine, they usually deal with one member of the party exclusively, and it’s this member who ultimately decides whether the group is drinking a $60 bottle or a $150 bottle.
The best way to make sure everyone feels comfortable with the wine order is to quickly discuss what you want to order as soon as everyone is seated. Yes we realize this cuts right in to clutch small talk time, but trust us, it’s worth it.
If you’re the person who organized the dinner, or you’re the person that simply happens to be default in your group when it comes to ordering wine, take a quick scan of the list and then ask the group what price range everyone would like to spend per bottle. The reason you scan the list first is to ensure the range you’re suggesting is actually available on the list! We find with groups a safe and affordable range with a good amount of options is between $40 and $60. After establishing the price everyone is comfortable paying, you’re free to poll the group for their tastes, ask the waiter for help or be given authority by the group to make the selection for them.
But what happens if you don’t have time to quickly ask everyone what they are comfortable spending? If you plan on splitting the bill, we recommend sticking to the price range suggested above. Even if you’re only dining with two or three other people, that keeps your cost per person around what someone might spend on a glass or two of wine.
However, if you’re the sort of person who likes to go out to eat and order the good stuff, a nice Burgundy, a Napa Cabernet or a bottle of Dom, that’s completely fine too — you should just be the one that picks up the cost. There is nothing wrong with being the wino in the group, or taking charge of the wine order, but if you do so and do not ask your dining companions if they’re comfortable splitting a pricey bottle that you choose, it should be you who covers that part of the bill. It’s fun to drink expensive wine with good friends, it’s even more fun to treat them!
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