The Fabulous Ladies’ Guide to Ordering from a Wine List: Part 2 How to order wine by the glass

If you’re heading out with friends for dinner, or even on a first date with the guy your friend’s being trying to set you up with for months, chances are these days you’ll be ordering your wine by the glass.

Ordering by the glass has become the de rigeur way to order wine at a bar or restaurant. It’s equitable, and fair, and totally PC. There’s no arguing over who likes what, and whether or not it will go with dinner, and everyone ends up having exactly what they like.

When you’re sharing a whole bottle it’s easy to put your head down, pretend you’re replying to a text, and leave the wine ordering to the more culinary types at the table. But when ordering your own wine is left up to you, how do you know what to choose?

Here’s our guide for staying fabulous when ordering wine by the glass:

There’s always one

If you’re out with a few people, there’s usually always one that knows (or claims to know!) a thing or two about wine. People love to be asked. So bat your eye lashes, put a pucker on your pouty lips and ask them! It’s wonderful to learn  more about wine from those around you, and they may even suggest something you’ve never heard – or thought – of.


If you’re lucky enough to be at a place that has a sommelier walking the floor then use them! They’re not just for advising on whole bottles. Sommeliers are well trained in wine and food pairings and really know their stuff. They’ve probably even selected all the wines on the list that you’re reading and know them inside out.

Deferring to a Sommelier never reflects badly on you. In fact, understanding why the Sommelier is there and engaging them to assist you makes you appear even more fabulous to everyone present.

Be bold

Ordering by the glass is the ultimate chance to explore the many and interesting varieties of wine that are available. Now’s the chance to break out of your old habits and order something completely new.

Lists are invariably grouped into reds, whites, and sparkling so at least you know what colour you’re getting! If you don’t like it, you can always order something else and you’ve only wasted one glass. (Or just finish it anyway. What the heck?!)

Ask the tough questions

What many people don’t realise is that ordering by the glass can be risky, as once a wine has been opened it’s quality immediately starts to deteriorate (unless it’s a rather tannic young Shiraz or Cab Sav, in which case they’ll actually benefit from a day or two in an opened bottle).

If you’re considering a particular wine on the list then it’s always worth asking the waiter, sommelier or bartender how long it was open and, for that matter, how it was stored. An open bottle of wine on a warm bar deteriorates more rapidly than a bottle stored on a refrigerator shelf. And a wine that’s already been opened for for four or five days or will taste very different than one just opened that day.

Never order the house wine. Never. Ever.

Not unless you’re in a cute French village or a chalet near the Swiss alps – with an even cuter ski instructor.

In Australia, the house wine is code for “the cheapest wine we could get our hands on this week to sell off for a major profit to people who don’t know their Chardonnay from their Chablis.”  This goes double if the establishment has the word “Club” in it’s title.

Don’t mistake house wine for “featured” wines or “specials” as these tend to be ones that have been selected for a particular purpose. House wines are in another league all together, and are best avoided.

Know the rules. Then break them.

Despite what the food and wine media would have you believe there really are no hard and fast wine pairing rules. There are suggestions only — and they’re broken ALL the time.

While in general the old adage of white meats = white wine, and red meats = red wine still rings true, if you feel like a Chardonnay with your steak and chips then just do it! You know what you like and there aint nobody who should stop you.

To stay fabulous while ordering wine by the glass have the confidence to order exactly what YOU like, don’t get too hung up on rules, and use it as a chance to try something completely new. Most of all, enjoy yourself and let the good times roll.

If you think you’ll be ordering wine by the bottle, the good-‘ol-fashioned-way then you need to read our Fabulous Ladies Guide to Ordering from a Wine List: Part 1 Ordering a Bottle