Sometimes dining out is a special occasion, not just a handy way to gain sustenance on your lunch break. And those special occasions call for preparation. There is hardly a meal that does not go well with a good bottle of wine, but the problem is how one can successfully pick up the right type and brand. But have no fear, that’s why we are here – to provide you with all the useful tips and tricks that will help you make the right decision and actually enhance your dining out experience by picking up the wine that you are going to love.


The most basic tips to follow

If you are completely new to the world of wine, then you would like to be acquainted with the simplest, yet most important tips and strategies that you would like to know in advance. Many of those might sound like common sense, but that does not mean that we do not have the responsibility of mentioning them to you:

  • The first and most basic of things that you would like to take care of is to do your homework. If the occasion you will be celebrating with a dining-out affair is really special, you would not want to venture into the restaurant totally clueless. In this respect, living in our day and time is very beneficial, because most restaurants have their wine list available online and you can easily access it even on your phone. So, you really have no excuse not to acquaint yourself with what is being offered at the place you made reservations for.
  • Do not be shy. The staff at the restaurant is here to help you and you should not hesitate to ask questions and request recommendations if you are not sure at all what to order to go with the meals your party has chosen. If the restaurant that you are at has its own sommelier or wine steward you are more or less obliged to ask. A good sommelier is proud of the wine list they offer and will be more than happy to assist you in making the right choice.
  • In case you are in the mood to experiment and expand your palate, instead of ordering a whole bottle of a certain brand and make, you might opt for trying glasses from different wines. Thus, you will be able to figure out what appeals to you the most, and the next time you are ordering wine at a restaurant, you will be able to pick up your favorite faster and more successfully.
  • The best way not to look clueless when you are ordering wine at a restaurant is to actually give up on your anxieties. Remember that wine is to be enjoyed – either with the meal or separately, and there is no shame in the fact that you are not acquainted with everything there is to know.

a picture of a glass of deep red wine

Caption: A glass of good wine can enhance your dining out experience several folds


Industry pros suggest the following strategies


To add up to the basic tips that we have laid out before, we would like to share with you some tricks that have been tested numerous times in the field that you simply know that you can trust. One of those is a handy trick when you do not want to spend too much money, but you do not want to demonstrate to the people that you are with money can be a problem, just ask your sommelier to recommend a wine similar to “this one” – then, instead of pointing to a particular name, point to a price tag on the menu. The sommelier will get the subtle hint and definitely help you out.

Red wine sweetness chart

Red Wine Sweetness Red Wine Varieties
Very Dry Bordeaux, Chianti, Montepulciano
Off-Dry Beaujolais, Burgundy, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Valpolicella
Medium Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz/Syrah, Zinfandel
Sweet Port
Very Sweet Ice Wine


Another thing that you should have in mind is that when people who do not know much about wine are dining out, they tend to order bottles with names that sound familiar. Most often they are such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Chablis. While there is nothing inherently bad about that, you should know that they do not always offer the best quality for the price. Sure enough, a really good bottle of Bordeaux can be heaven on earth, but if you want to get the most out of the experience you will have to part with quite a bit of cash. Cheaper alternatives to the high-end famous brands and wine types are usually quite disappointing. So, when you are in the mood for red wine that is also budget-friendly, you might want to look for brands from Côtes du Rhône, Languedoc, southern Italy, Portugal and Chile. As for white wine, the affordable options that you have would come from Loire, Germany, Greece, northwest Spain and South Africa.

There is an urban legend that the second cheapest option on the menu is the one with the most inflated price, but there is actually no proof at all to that fact. Remember that the higher end of the spectrum the restaurant is, the higher the prices of the wine are to be. You will usually find the best value for money in the range between 40$ and 80$. House brands tend to be cheaper, but they are more or less a hit and miss situation – some restaurants have an exquisite quality of house wine, while in the case with others, it is simply the cheapest and worst option that you might have. If you nevertheless would like to try the house wine, the best thing to do is to order just a glass of it for starters, so that you can see if it is going to appeal to your senses. If you like it, then you can always proceed and order a whole bottle.

picture of a burgundy wine label

Caption: Famous wines such as Burgundy are not always the best value for money


And remember

If you ever find yourself in the area of Fishtown in the city of Philadelphia and you are actually in the mood for a premier quality dining out experience with some fine wine going with it, then there is one place that you simply need to check out, and that is our own The Mad Rex restaurant. You will not be disappointed.