Advice

“Stick With Labels You Can Pronounce,” And Other Tips For Ordering Wine On A Date

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Here’s something I’ve noticed while dating in New York: guys my age (mid-twenties) LOVE to order wine for you, but ALWAYS order Malbec. I think it’s because Malbec is A) fairly cheap, B) fairly ubiquitous, and, I suspect C) fairly easy to pronounce.

But after the 6th or so example of a guy confidently asking the waitress “Do you have any Malbec?” on the menu, I started to wonder….

Are guys ordering Malbec because it’s the only wine they know?

We asked Elyse Luray, author of “Great Wines Under $20,” for her suggestions on what wine to order on a date, and wouldn’t you know it? Malbec was only mentioned once.

For someone who knows nothing about wine, what good and inexpensive wine should they look for on menus for first dates?

I always say, stick with labels you can pronounce, usually California wines or those from Australia or New Zealand. Go with the golden rule: when picking the wine, “white wine with fish, and red wine with meat.” Usually you can’t go wrong with pairing the wine with the region, ie, Italian food with Italian wine. Lastly, you can always ask for help. Just pretend you want their opinion rather than knowing nothing. “Is there a house favorite? I’m looking for some new wines to try and I would love a suggestion on a wine that I know nothing about.”

What’s an inexpensive bottle of wine that everyone should keep at their house for impromptu “Would you like to come up for a drink?” occasions?

One white, one red because you never know what everyone likes. I say, Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon is widely available and Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Both are widely available and well known.

What’s the best wine to set the mood? Celebrate a milestone? To get you through a break-up?


Red wine is the most romantic. Try the Primus Cabernet Blend — it is ripe with fruit flavors and exotic spices. Sitting by the fireplace, a nice Malbec like Crios is elegant and spicy. Celebrating your anniversary, try a Cote de Rhone from France, like Chateau Cambis. This wine is bold, lots of body, spicy and silky! Sailing on a romantic sunset cruise, switch to white; J Wine Pinot Gris is light, fun and fruity. Want a semi sparkling wine, with a fruity flavor? Try Candoni Moscato. As for the breakup? Anything goes…

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