Food, Home & Lifestyle

Education and Etiquette: Reading a Wine List

James Suckling

Lesson time 15:58 min

Along with legendary winemaker Lamberto Frescobaldi, James demystifies the process of reading a wine list. Gain the knowledge and etiquette to properly order in a restaurant setting, as well as share from your own collection.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Wine List Organization • Maximize Your Time With Your Sommelier • Looking at Producers, Regions, and Styles • Wine by the Glass • Cost Margins • BYOB Etiquette • Let the Wine Guide You


I thought it might be helpful to take a moment to deconstruct a wine list with a friend of mine, Lamberto Frescobaldi, whose families have been making wines for 600 years in Tuscany. - I have a lot of fun actually buying wine in restaurants. It can be daunting sometimes if you're not sure what to pick. There's those wine lists that are like a phone book and thick and, like, you don't even know where to start. There's thousands of wines to buy. So think of the situation, maybe make a quick selection for something that's going to be drinkable and delicious, and everyone can enjoy while you're spending time going through the wine list. And of course, don't forget the owner or the somm or whoever is in charge of the wine program. That's the first place to go if you don't have an idea of what you want to drink. If they don't really know, then you have to go by region or type of wine. Let's say you're fond of German dry Riesling from the middle of Mosel, you might pick that. Or you like red burgundies, you might pick that. You go by vintage if you don't know who the producer is so you would know that 2015 red burgundy was excellent. Or you know that 2010 Bordeaux was great or 2007 Brunello. Also if I'm going to a restaurant with a big wine list, I often look at the wine list online. That's a good way to figure it out. You take a look at it. Look at different categories. It gives you an idea of what areas they might be better in. Everyone has one of those restaurant wine list horror stories of buying the wrong wine or spending a lot of money on a bottle of wine that they didn't like. So you want to make the right selection. And I think that, in general, and there's nothing wrong with it, you have to make the decision based on price first. Come up with the idea, how much do I want to spend tonight. And if you think you're going to order a couple of bottles of wine, then you need to think about that as well. Plan ahead, it's all about planning ahead. Lamberto, you have a number of restaurants. We have your wine list here with us. What ideas do you have? - Being a producer, I love to look at wine lists. And if you visit 100 different restaurants, you will have 100 different wine lists, that they are organized in different ways. So what we did over the last years is we have been giving a two sentence of explanation of what is the wine. So not only the color, rose, white, red, also the place, and then it really tried to help our customers to choose. - I think you might find it interesting how I organized my wine list in Phuket, Thailand, by the moment and the style of the wine. So if you're at the pool, you're obviously going to want something fresh and delicious. So I came up with some clean, bright, fresh wines, like some roses from Cotes de Provence or beautiful whites from Alto Adige or something spicy or richer in the main dining room, like a beautiful Serra from Italy or a bold Cabernet from the United States. An...

About the Instructor

Called one of the “world’s most powerful wine critics,” James Suckling has tasted more than 200,000 wines over the past 40 years. In his wine tasting MasterClass, James tours legendary Tuscan vineyards and teaches you to explore the stories, history, and people behind every bottle. Deepen your knowledge of the properties in each sip, cultivate your passion, and choose, order, and pair wines with confidence.

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James Suckling

Flavor, aroma, and structure—Learn from wine master James Suckling as he teaches you to appreciate the stories in every bottle.

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