Ask the Editor: Help Me Ease My Wine-Ordering Anxiety

It's the moment of truth: You're out with a big group, you're in charge of ordering wine, and you're staring at a bottle list 300 labels deep. What now?

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Welcome to Ask the Editor, a new weekly column by yours truly where I answer all of your Philly food and drink questions. Have some burning ones already? Email me here.

How can I avoid the sweats every time I have to order wine?

— Ben in Ardmore

Philly Mag food editor Alex Tewfik

I hate Wine People because Wine People are no fun.

They talk about tannins at parties (thrilling) and drop the word “notes” a lot, which, conversationally speaking, is no more stimulating than discussing the weather.

What’s worse is that Wine People ruined wine for the rest of us, turning it into the drink of elitists and show-offs (hence the wine-sweats), instead of just treating it like what it actually is: old grape juice that makes you feel silly.

Want to know more about wine? Drink tons of it. No repeats. When you’re around people who know better (say, your server or your rich uncle), ask questions — especially dumb questions — because once you know the basics, everything else is pretty much just for effect. And guess what? Wine Week starts March 22nd. That could be a good time to dive in.

In the meantime, the next time you’re out to eat, go ahead and order the cheapest bottle, because if you’re in a good restaurant, any bottle you get will likely be better than most of the offerings at your local state store. (Apart from the locations with Chairman’s Collections, state stores have to appeal to a very wide customer base, and, let’s face it: A $10 plus-sized bottle of Sutter Home white zin sells faster and better than a natural wine made from unknown grapes for twice the cost.)

Or maybe choose the bottle with the funniest sounding name, and if you like it, remember it for next time so you can look cool in front of your friends. See a pretty label behind the bar? Order it for that very reason, and make sure you stare directly into your sommelier’s eyes when you tell her so.

Be shameless about it, because being shameless is fun — something Wine People need to become reacquainted with.