Wine Tips from Sommelier Steven Lande of The Dining Room - Chicago, IL

November 2011

10. If you offer your server a taste of wine, do not take it as an insult if they do not accept, because many restaurants have very strict rules on alcohol consumption by the staff.

9. If you ask for a recommendation for a Puligny-Montrachet or Chassagne-Montrachet, don't simply say "Montrachet" or the sommelier will immediately start recommending the Grand Cru, which is more expensive.

8. When hosting a party of ten or more, call ahead to plan out a wine program for the evening. This makes it easier for your guests to just enjoy themselves. Also, restaurants with large lists do not always have sufficient supplies of each bottle.

7. For a white wine with food, don't forget about the German Rieslings. Any wine by the producer J.J. Prüm is a great call- just make sure you know the wine's sweetness level. There's a big difference between Kabinett and Auslese!

6. If you haven't had a sweet-style Chenin Blanc with cheese lately, try it again. The Loire Valley is famous for its sweet wines from the Coteaux du Layon and its more famous subregions, Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux.

5. If you are taking your time ordering a wine, don't let the server place your order too quickly, or there is a strong chance that the food will be served before your wine is opened. Conversely, when you order your dinner order the wines as well. Don't try to pick later, because you want to make sure that when the food arrives the appropriate wine is in stock, opened and poured.

4. Call first before bringing your own wine to a restaurant. Each restaurant has its own policy, and certain cities and countries have specific laws on the subject.

3. When a sommelier takes a taste of your wine before serving, this is not for a 'free taste.' This is only a simple step to make sure your wine is a healthy bottle. A corked bottle can really leave a lasting bad impression.

2. A simple rule to follow with wine: Rosé Champagne goes perfectly with any event, whether a meal or a social situation. Try Billecart-Salmon, Brut Rosé NV.

1. Even if you know what you want to order, or especially if you are down to a couple of choices, ask the sommelier or manager's opinion. First, a relationship is made, and second, they should have some insight about their list.