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Snooth User: ahall

So this stag walked into a bar...

Posted by ahall, Nov 22, 2007.

Recently I got to thinking... What's the proper protocol for ordering wine on a date?
Here’s what precipitated this… Last week I had dinner at City Crab with my date- let’s call him Tom- who knew little ( read: nothing ) about wine. Seemed like the only thing he did know was that wine was made from grapes. As we sat down the waiter appeared, asking if we wanted the wine list. We did. He then handed it to Tom (why did he just automatically hand the list to the guy?), who gazed at me shyly and pleaded, "I must admit… I don’t really drink wine- would you pick one for us?"
I welcomed Tom’s honesty and selected a Stag’s Leap 2003 Sauvignon Blanc. I like to drink Sauvignon Blanc with seafood and, since Tom’s from California , I figured he'd appreciate a wine from his home state. When the waiter returned, and before I had a chance to order, he turned to Tom. “Have you decided on a wine?” the waiter asked him. I felt invisible! The waiter had just assumed that Tom knew more than me and that ordering was a man's job.
Worst of all, Tom couldn't understand why I was upset. I told him that I felt the waiter had overlooked me. I felt like a girl in a boys’ club. I understand that sometimes men do the ordering, but Tom’s thinking troubled me. He told me he saw nothing wrong with the waiter’s actions “because the guy usually pays anyway.” (!!!)
Then he proceeded to tell me that I was overreacting and making a big deal out of nothing.
It all boils down to this. Does the one who pays also earn the right to control the ordering of the wine and food? If so, then where does that leave me, and the multitude of other women who feel uncomfortable pretending to be helpless around men (at least when it comes to the wine lists)?
When ordering wine, are women to let the guys do the ordering, or should we assert ourselves? If my date admits to knowing nothing about wine, should I just sit there and smile serenely while he struggles with the selection? It just doesn't make sense. It is quite a conundrum and I’d like to hear from all of you- have you been in this situation and how have you dealt with it?


Blog comment by Clint, Nov 22, 2007.

Wow... this might be Snooth's first potential... umm... "poo" storm in the making!

I'm going to try and avoid the sexism conversation as much as possible, although I'd love to drop a great controversial sound bite and watch traffic to the blog spike! But I will say that I have a very honest and objective opinion about sexism: I feel it actually goes both ways a lot more often than people realize.

That said, let's ignore the waiter, as he's probably absolved by virtue of his essentially standing on tradition and doing what he's trained to do - right, wrong, or indifferent. The bigger picture here is (at least as it pertains to wine) what's the ordering protocol?

The answer to your question is order away! You've earned the right, so by all means go for it and no man should ever feel threatened. BUT... just keep in mind there's a very foggy definition of how men are "expected" to behave in this day in age, and it gets foggier by the day since there are a lot of mixed messages between what is considered chivalrous and what is considered sexist. What Tom said about being offered the list because the guy usually pays was obviously ham-handed and should never have come out of his mouth at a dinner table... but that doesn't mean it's not a fair point. There is still (like it or not) an expectation placed on men for those types of things (picking up tabs, etc). So it's only reasonable to assume that part of that expectation is also going to be the responsibility/privilege/luxury of making the decisions that go along with it. Is it an outdated and somewhat sexist mentality? No question about it, yes. But ignoring the double-edged sword probably isn't fair either.

So: Tom gets a thumbs down for being a fool; women feeling encouraged and comfortable ordering the wine for the table gets a thumbs up; and lost in the shuffle is all the grey area about chivalry, sexism, and what the consequences are of their ever blurring line... it's a tough one all-around, but makes for great chatter over a favorite bottle of wine (

Blog comment by Mirda, Nov 23, 2007.

I like to let girl make the order from time to time, especially if I see that waiter is ignoring my date.
All I do is put smile all over my face and say "Would you like to make an order, honey, I have confidence in your taste". Waiter might see that he is a jerk, girl feels respected, and I don't have to think is she gonna like it or not. win/win/win situation. :-)

Blog comment by image consultant, Nov 23, 2007.

The waiter was unprofessional. Many women know a great deal about wine these days and most men appreciate that we have an enjoyment of it. The waiter should have noticed that you'd been looking at the wine list and asked you or both of you what you would like to drink.
When that didn't happen Tom should really have directed the waiter to ask you for your selection.
Having said all this if Tom's from California we should probably take that states approach and relax and not worry about it...

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