Wine Etiquette

Restaurant server pouring white wine
Wine selection should be determined by taste. Tanes Jitsawart/EyeEm/Getty Images

Wine has become a favorite adult beverage, with a variety of brands, flavors, and price points that make it possible for most people to enjoy it. You don't have to be a wine connoisseur to drink it with panache, but it's nice to know a few basics before you uncork the bottle on your kitchen counter. A bottle of wine also makes an excellent host or hostess gift.

Wine Choice

I've heard people argue about which wine to drink with certain foods.

Some people claim that it is imperative to drink white wine with chicken, fish, and pork, and red wine with beef. Other folks might claim that you can drink red wine with pork, while another group says to drink whatever wine you want with whatever you're having.

Although most wine experts agree that a full-bodied, robust red wine stands up to a steak better than a mild white wine, the trend is not to worry about it and enjoy whatever flavor pairings you enjoy. If someone says something about your choice, all you have to do is smile and change the subject. It really shouldn't matter to anyone but you.

If you are a guest at a dinner party in someone's home, accept whatever wine is offered, regardless of how you feel about the host's choice. You don't have to drink anything you don't like, but you should never make a big deal of your preference.

When choosing a wine to drink with cheese, consider the strength of the flavor of the cheese.

If it is salty, you may want to pair it with a sweet white wine. A bold-flavored cheese will go well with a red wine. However, it is still up to you to choose whatever type of wine you like. If you would like more information about which wine to select, here are some tips: Selecting Wines.

Wine Approval

If you are dining out at a fine restaurant, there is a good chance the server (or sommelier) will bring you the bottle to check.

Take a look at it and give your approval if it is what you ordered. In some cases, you will be expected to taste it. Take a sip and offer a nod if you approve or a friendly shake of the head if you don't.

When ordering by the glass, you should ask how long the bottle has been open. Wine that has been exposed to air for more than a day may have started to go bad, so it is fine for you to make another selection.

Pouring the Wine

If you are in charge of opening and pouring the wine, you'll need to follow these steps:

  • Remove the foil from the opening of the bottle. This is an easy, smooth process if you have a foil cutter specifically for this purpose.
  • Using a corkscrew or other cork removing device remove the cork. It's a good idea to wipe the bottle clean to prevent pieces of the cork from getting into someone's wine glass.
  • Pour approximately 4 ounces of wine into each glass.
  • Wipe the bottle again before replacing the cork.

Drinking the Wine

When using a stemmed wine glass, hold it by the stem, close to the base. Lift it to your lips and inhale. The fragrance should be pleasant enough to entice you to sip it. Don't gulp. Savor it and enjoy the flavor.

Proposing a Toast

Celebrating with wine often involves a toast.

The person who proposes a toast may either sit or stand as she lifts her glass of wine and says what is on her mind. After she finishes, other people may add a few words of their own. Then all of the people in the group should lift their glasses before taking a sip.

Some people may want to clink their glasses. If this is you, do so very carefully so you won't break yours or someone else's wine glass. Then take a sip. This is not the time to chug your wine. In fact, it is never okay to chug a glass of wine.