I am a server in a casual dining restaurant with a greater emphasis on wine service than most establishments in our price category. Our company has provided us with a great many opportunities to increase our wine knowledge. While completing things like the basic Gallo Wine Academy course has increased my comfort level regarding wine, there is a limit to how much of that I can reasonably bring to the table. (Most people come into the restaurant to enjoy the company of friends, not to hear about malolactic fermentation, diurnal shift, or phylloxera.)
So, if a guest asks me a question about a specific wine, I can usually offer a fairly reasonable assessment. Where I falter is the more common, "I'll have a glass of (fill-in-the-blank varietal)" Chardonnay isn't too hard. "Do you prefer a nice oaky, buttery Chardonnay or something crisper?" And, of course, in some cases I have the opportunity to suggest a wine that I legitimately and frequently enjoy myself. Other than that, what are some tips to steer a guest towards a nicer glass or bottle of wine?
Bear in mind that, often, the guest may have chosen that particular varietal because it was one he knew how to pronounce.
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