How To Tell If Ordering The Cheapest Wine At A Restaurant Is A Mistake

We're not all sommeliers, and while we might pretend like we're deeply contemplating our wine choice while out to eat, we all know we're just going to end up going with the cheapest option. However, that can be a real mistake. Depending on the restaurant you're dining at, and how seriously it takes its wines, you could end up regretting your decision — even if you ordered a comfortably-priced wine

But, how does one decide whether or not they can trust an establishment's wine judgment? It's quite obvious, actually. In fact, it's essentially written out for you. To judge how seriously a restaurant takes its wine, look no further than the menu. In this case, however, it's not so much what they say about the wine, but what they don't say. 

If you turn to the wine list and see that the wines by the glass are missing key information, such as the producer, consider yourself warned. Even if the grape variety is listed under the description, that restaurant probably doesn't consider wine a priority, and, more likely than not, you're going to be disappointed if you order the cheapest option.

Tips for ordering wine at a restaurant

When you find yourself stuck on what to order wine-wise, going with the cheapest option shouldn't be your plan B — let alone your plan A. What you should do instead is ask your server. Communicate your price point, taste preferences, and any potential meal pairings with your server and see if they have a recommendation for you. Also, if you're ordering by the glass and are having doubts, there's no harm in asking for a taste first. 

Your server is there to help make you happy and they want you to enjoy your experience. But what good will any of that do if, at the end of the day, the restaurant you're dining at doesn't prioritize the wine they serve? The above rules still apply, and the first step to take if you don't know which wine to order is always to ask for guidance. 

However, if your server isn't giving you much to work with, fall back to what you know. This is when it's important to have experience with the classic wines for beginners, as it will give you an understanding of what you like in a wine — and, just as importantly, what you don't like. At least one of these wines is bound to be on the menu wherever you go, no matter the restaurant.