I was at a business dinner the other night, and the group wanted to order wine. What should we get? asked one. I don't know much about wine. That's OK, said another. I don't know much, either. But Siegel does. He can order it.
I mention this not to tout my wine skills (the Wine Curmudgeon is, of course, incredibly modest). Rather, it's to offer advice for those times when one needs to order wine and there is no wine writer around. This is most often a problem in a business setting, where what one orders is often a reflection of one's sophistication (as unfair as that may be).
So keep these pointers in mind:
• Know the boss's price range. You don't want to order that $250 bottle of Napa cabernet if the boss just got back from a cut the budget meeting.
• Don't try to impress everyone with your wine knowledge. The way to a promotion is not to announce to the table that the wine has leathery, cigar box overtones.
• Don't be afraid to ask for help. That's what the waiter or sommelier is for. Tell them how much you want to spend, what the table's preferences are (we just want wine with dinner as opposed to we want to pair the wine with the meal), and let them work their magic. The staff at most quality restaurants will be up to the challenge.
• Order what you know. This is not the time to take a chance on that New Zealand sauvignon blanc when your palate is mostly California chardonnay. The tastes are considerably different, and everyone will notice when you spit the sauvignon blanc out because it is too citrusy.