How do you proceed when you order wine?
Do you order taking a look at the wine list or you ask for a suggestion?
Basically, in each restaurant the wine list should help us make our choice, unfortunately very often it is not present and in many cases we find it not completely exhaustive.
So how do we proceed?
Unless we know every single one of the hundreds of thousands of producers scattered all over the world (only in Italy there are currently about 46000 producers), how do we orient ourselves?
The best way could be to get advice from the sommelier or the waiter on duty as long as there is and is sufficiently prepared, otherwise the only way will be to ask specific questions and demand clear answers, it is the responsibility of each restaurateur to know well what he sells.
If we want a quality dining experience our way of consuming must be critical.
Otherwise, if our goal is just to get drunk then drinking gasoline will be more than enough!
So here are the right questions when we order wine:
- What do I want to drink? It sounds like a trivial question but it is very important to know what we want. Do we want to try a new territory or discover new indigenous grapes? Do we want to try well known grapes but from different territories?
- After this we should ask ourselves who is behind that wine and how did he make it? What kind of agriculture it comes from? Is it sustainable, organic, biodynamic, conventional farming?
- How does he make and refine his wines? Does he use chemicals? Does he buy grapes from external farmers? Does he produce it on an industrial or artisanal scale?
- And the price? Is it honest? Honest doesn’t mean low but with a decent markup and obviously if it falls within your budget.
- When we finally have chosen what is right for ourselves and for our ethics or health, we will ask ourselves: is the wine well matched to the meal or viceversa But for this you can check this article about food and wine pairing.
In conclusion, if we don’t want to waste money, it will be good to learn to be “critical consumers” and be demanding!
This affects our health, the quality of our culinary experience and last but not least, the health of our planet.
Below I’ll try to explain some further notions related to this article:
1) What should a wine list look like? Here is an article that explains it well: https://www.rootsnaturalwine.com/2019/08/09/how-to-draft-your-wine-list/
2) Yes, not all the producers are the same, everyone interprets wines in their own way. So not all Chardonnay are the same, neither the Primitivo nor the Barolos.
The final wine is influenced by many factors including the style of the producer, the territory (therefore the soil / area where the plant grows), the agronomic and cellar practices, the aging.
So you can find supermarket Barolos and therefore of poor quality and great Barolos that will remain well etched in your mind. That’s why some can cost 20 euros and others 200 euros (and even much more, but at some point it also becomes marketing).
Yes, not all the producers are the same, everyone interprets wines in their own way. So not all Chardonnay are the same, neither the Primitivo nor the Barolos.
3) I have named conventional agriculture which specifically includes all those agronomic practices that are neither organic nor biodynamic. In conventional agriculture the use of a large amount of chemicals is allowed for the treatment of the plant and the soil including pesticides, herbicides etc. All this is prohibited in organic and biodynamic agriculture.
4) A producer who makes organic wine does not necessarily mean that he does not intervene heavily in the cellar with filtrations, clarifications, cooling treatments, corrections with additives and many other practices. So even an organic wine can be produced in an industrial scale and therefore not entirely healthy. Only natural or “low intervention” wine guarantees a completely artisanal and sustainable production.
For any request for clarification, write to me and I will be happy to resolve your doubts.