Choosing wine

Wine is food, the natural result of grapes (or other fruit), yeast, and time. So, why is wine intimidating when you go to a restaurant?

Do you balk over broccoli, dither about dressings, excogitate on endive?

In today’s wine world it is almost impossible to buy something not worth tasting. You might buy something not as good as something else, but you likely will enjoy whatever you buy.

Restaurant survival suggestions:

• Order something you know. You know you enjoy it. Done.

• Order something you don’t know. Opposite of first recommendation: welcome to wine. Order by the glass to experiment.

• If your table is going to drink more than two glasses, it is cheaper to buy a bottle.

• The restaurant’s cheapest wine usually is over-priced. The most expensive often is trap for insecure wannabes striving to impress a boss or potential spouse. Enjoy the middle where values lurk—if there are values. Let’s be honest: some restaurants have no clue about wine other than it gives owners an opportunity to corkscrew customers. Do not go to those restaurants. Tell friends not to go. If you do go, drink water.

• If the place has a sommelier, ask for advice. If you are a guy, maybe you did not ask for directions when you got lost finding the eatery. That’s behind you. Now, ask the expert. They know their wines and their food. It is acceptable to ask for another option after they suggest the $385 bottle from an obscure Tuscan vineyard.

Tasting notes:

• Martin Códax Albariño Rias Baixas 2011. Crisp, bright, light; peach, apple, lemon; nice acidity; less wow than previous years, but still good value; Albariño is premium Spanish white grape. $14

• Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Tasty, tart, dry, silky balance; blackberry jam, plum, mocha; Gott’s easy drinking value effort nice for price. $15

• Gallo Signature Series Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2011. Wonderfully subtle lemon-pear-melon-vanilla; crisp, delicious acidity; OK oak. $24

Last round: Irritated by something? Wine a little. You’ll feel better.