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Simple tips for ordering wine at a restaurant or bar

Have you ever been to a restaurant and not known what wine to choose? Don’t worry! We’ve made a list of the key tips for success so that you’ll know exactly which wine to choose when you're dining out and get it right every time. Don’t forget to take a look at our list of the top tips for ordering wine at a restaurant or bar!

Cómo pedir vino en un bar

Bear in mind what you're going to eat

If you're sure what you're going to have for dinner or lunch, it’ll be much easier to pick out a good wine. Even though we love to try new things, there are some basic fail-safe rules for pairing wine with food. Consider whether you’re having fish (oily or white), meat (red or poultry), pasta, vegetables and even sauces.

If everyone at the table is going to eat the same thing, for example a paella or a juicy roast, you could consider ordering a bottle of wine. Remember that each bottle of wine (red or white) contains 75 cl and can fill roughly 5 to 6 glasses. This is the most interesting option since it is easier and more affordable.

If you’re not all on the same page, you could always reserve a wine for pairing with desserts. This option is just as delicious and could go with a wide range of dishes: fruit, cake, chocolate coulants, a cheese board or even ice cream.

Which wine is best for each kind of food? Let’s go over the basic rules

Don’t be scared of the wine list

More often than not, the overwhelming part of ordering wine at a restaurant is the huge wine list they have. It’s nothing to worry about! It’s perfectly normal not to know all of the varieties and classes of wine they have, but this doesn't mean you can’t be discerning when ordering.

Wine lists normally are split into reds, whites, rosés, etc. This is the easy part if we know which kind we want. Now, within each type, even if you don’t know the winery or the vintage, the best thing to do is to look at the grape variety: Chardonnay, Viura, Verdejo, Tempranillo, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc... That can tell you certain things about the wine you want to choose, such as how tart or fruity it is.

This bit is important! Don’t just look at the price. A common mistake is to go straight to the more expensive wines so as to make a “good impression”. A very expensive or exclusive wine is not always the best choice for lunch or dinner. Of course, the more expensive ones are in a higher class, but that doesn’t always play a determining rule for getting the right wine.

The last tip when it comes to ordering wine at a restaurant is always to look at quality seals, such as the Designation of Origin.

All of our wines have the DOCa Rioja seal. Find out more about them!
Cómo elegir vino en un restaurante
Probar el vino en restaurantes

You always have to try the wine

If you’ve chosen a particular wine, bear in mind that you always have to try it before it is served to the other guests. We do this mainly to check that the wine is in good conditions (which it usually is).

Tasting the wine in the restaurant doesn’t mean that someone is being showy. It’s also easier than it looks, so don't worry about it. It’s as easy as checking that both the aromas of the wine and the mouth notes are to our liking.

Firstly, the sommelier will show you the bottle that you have chosen to check that it is the correct one. After opening it, they will pour a small amount into your glass. At this point, we would recommend gently swirling the wine in the glass. This is a good way to aerate the contents and release the aromas. Tip: you can balance the glass to swirl the wine if that’s more comfortable for you.

Remember, you should smell the wine before tasting it, since the stage of smelling also provides us with lots of information. In fact, it is one of the key factors for picking up on any issues with the wine and changing the bottle if necessary.

Lastly, taste the wine. This is not just about drinking it. The important thing is to hold the sip in your mouth for a few seconds before swallowing it. That way you can appreciate all the notes and the level of astringency. Try to take a moderately sized sip; don’t fill your mouth but also don’t take such a small sip that you need to take another one. If everything is fine, you can tell the sommelier that you approve so that they can serve it.

If in doubt, ask for recommendations

If you're still in doubt or don’t know which wine to choose, it’s a good idea to ask the sommelier, who will be very knowledgeable and experienced. This is a great resource when you don’t know which wine to order at a restaurant or you’ve only narrowed it down to a few options.

Remember that, among their other roles, sommeliers are there to help customers out. Don’t hesitate to tell them in detail about what you're going to eat and the general preferences of the people at the table, for example if you'd prefer a dry or fruity wine, etc. They’ll be sure to give you a great recommendation! This could even be the time to leave your comfort zone and try some different wines.

El Coto de Rioja at your favourite restaurant

If there’s something that stands out about El Coto de Rioja, it’s our close relationship with our customers. We're very accessible, which means our wines are in many restaurants and bars across Spain. In fact, we’ve already made complete lists of some of the best places to sample our wines in both Madrid and Barcelona. Have you taken a look at them yet?

Which El Coto de Rioja wines should you order at a restaurant?

We love how much culinary variety there is in our country, which is why you can find different wines from our winery at restaurants. You can always find the perfect bottle of El Coto for your meal!

Some of our most popular wines are:

  • El Coto Crianza: perfect for pairing with meat, fish, cheese and cured Ibérico meats.
  • Coto Mayor: only available in bars and restaurants. It is available in white, rosé, Crianza and Reserva.
  • Coto de Imaz Reserva: amazing with red meat, game and veal.
  • El Coto Verdejo: a refreshing wine that goes great with seafood, rice dishes and even pasta.
  • 875m Chardonnay: a really smooth wine. Perfect for seafood stews, rice stews, oily fish and seafood.
  • El Coto Semidulce: made with Viura and Chardonnay grapes and excellent for starters, aperitifs, cheeses, fruit and dessert.
Do you want to take one of our El Coto de Rioja wines home with you? Take a look at our online store
Coto de Rioja restaurantes

Don’t worry about ordering wine at a restaurant or bar! Use these simple tips and enjoy the lunch or dinner you deserve when dining out. Do you want more tips and ideas? Don't forget to take a look at our articles on the El Coto de Rioja blog. You could start out with these ones:

How to host a wine tasting at home with friendsTips for buying wine online, and getting it right!