Deciphering a Wine List
To choose a high-quality, well-priced bottle, Andrea Immer, host of the Fine Living Network's Simply Wine, suggests the following:
- Have a clear idea of what you want to spend. A good rule of thumb is to take the price of the most expensive entree as a baseline and then go up to about 50 percent more than that. If it's $18 for the steak, your ballpark should be $18 to $27. Why use this formula? The restaurant assumes most people will pay about the price of an entree for a bottle, so they work hardest to find good-quality wines in that price range.
- Narrow it down. Eliminate half the menu by choosing red or white, then go one step further and choose by grape variety, picking one that is crowd-pleasing and versatile. A no-fail white grape is Riesling, and the red grape Shiraz is superb.
- Start with a taste. If you're getting just a glass, ask for a taste of it before you commit. This is completely legitimate, and some restaurants will even serve you half a glass if you ask.