How to Hack Any Wine List
GQ Style|Spring 2017

Whether you’re out on a date, romancing clients, or just eating with friends, the mostintimidating part of any meal is ordering the wine. Luckily, our chief value correspondent has developed a foolproof method for nailing it every time. Take a long sip and let the compliments roll in.

Michael Williams

I recently took two close friends out to dinner at Mario Batali’s Del Posto in Manhattan. The meal was a thank-you for some help they’d given me, so I was buying—which meant I had free rein to order a seriously good flight of wine.

I’ve spent the past 12 years trying to learn my way around wines, and at this point I know more than your average roast-chicken eater. So when the sommelier dropped the list, I commandeered it. When he came back to check on me, I was ready. I ordered a bottle of the Ceretto. A year earlier, I’d gone to Northwest Italy and visited that vineyard, so I knew it well. The wine was good—very bold— and opened up nicely. Just before our entrées came out, the Ceretto was about kicked, so I flagged down the somm. This time I took us to Veneto, ordering a nice bottle from the much loved Giuseppe Quintarelli estate. When he came back with it, the sommelier said the five most glorious words in wine drinking: “Are you in the business?”

I was so stoked I could’ve given the guy a leaping Clay Matthews chest bump, but I tried to play it cool. I just said, “I wish.” It was the stuff wine-nerd dreams are made of.

No question about it: Ordering wine is the most intimidating part of eating out. Especially when you’re in a high-pressure situation like a date or a business dinner. But get it right and you’re a legend. Wine tends to perplex even the most sophisticated among us, so having a working knowledge of it can make you seem more interesting than Anthony Bourdain.

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