We all like to think that we're all oenophiles when it comes to dining out, but how do we actually put our expertise to the test? Beth Brickenden, wine connoisseur at Chris Denney's Portobello restaurant FIEND, is every diner's go-to lady for excellent wine pairing during their meal. Besides her time at FIEND, she has also joined fellow experts on Amazon Prime's The Three Drinkers series, which explores Ireland's oldest and most game-changing distilleries that go beyond whiskey. Wine and dine the right way with veteran Brickenden's top five tips on how to pick the perfect wine – as follows:
1) Chat to the Wine Pro!
Golden tip number one, whether it’s in a restaurant or a wine shop, talk to the sommelier. One of the most exciting things about working in wine is chatting to guests and learning their likes (and dislikes) and finding that perfect wine. We’ll have specific questions to ask you – it’s a bit like speed dating!
2) Don't Go For the Obvious
Big brands often carry a bigger price too. Go off-piste…you might just like it! Look for off-the-beaten-track regions and varieties, try an Austrian Zweigelt if you like Pinot Noirs or lighter style Syrahs, or an English Bacchus if you like aromatic Sauvignon Blancs.
3) Get Playful with flavour
Have you ever made the mistake of drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth?! That awful bitter taste is down to acid and sugar getting thrown off balance. The same thing happens with food and wine; our perception of wine literally changes after we take a mouthful of food. Get playful and work your wine around what you are eating, not only might you discover some new wines, but you’ll level up your meal! A super book to start with is Which Wine When by Bert Baize and Claire Strickett.
4) Don’t Overlook the “House” or First Wine on a Restaurant List
You can really judge a restaurant by the careful selection of a fantastic first wine on the list. There should be great wines at every price point. And don’t be afraid to ask for a taste first if it’s by the glass since there will be a bottle open!
5) Get to Know, and Support Your Local
Independent neighbourhood wine shops and local restaurants will often have some fun wines that they might have off the menu, or special events and tastings coming up. Get to know them and you’ll always have a friend in wine!