A wine club member, Laura Beingessner wonders....

Is it wrong to order the house wine?

When your best friend is a “wine enthusiast” it’s easy enough to sit back and allow her to peruse the wine list like a pro. Dinners out are always complete with an appropriate wine choice. I never have to think about “matching to my meal” or “selecting a bad year” or paying for a glass that I could potentially need to spew across the table. Okay, I’m exaggerating – it can’t possibly be as bad as Uncle Tony’s home brew.

But admit it, you’ve done it too – the momentary pause, followed by a look of intense menu concentration, and the response – “Oh yes, I’ll have what she’s having.” Look up. Smile. Very casual – another choice avoided!

As a wine novice, I know the day will come when I’ll have complete confidence to navigate the full wine list. But for now, I pose the question: Is it so wrong to order the house wine? I mean, after all, it is on the list for a reason – and it is right at the top! But somehow, I always feel like choosing the house wine is like admitting failure – admitting that my wine knowledge is not up to par. So, for any of you wine clubbers out there who share my love of drinking and fear of ordering, I’ve put together a few reasons why selecting the house wine is a good thing!

1. No one has to know
• Contrary to other alcoholic beverages, once your wine is poured, there is no distinguishing label, brand, or cheesy glassware that identifies your drink of choice. This is a good thing.
• Interaction with your server is a quiet affair – until restaurants start yelling out your order like Starbucks, your secret is safe!

2. It’s the cheapest item on the menu
• You’ve heard of the “latté factor” – if you saved the extra money you spent ordering simple coffee instead of a latté… blah blah… same applies here, you’ll be rich in no time!
• Less expensive wine = you can order more glasses = a more interesting night!

3. No tongue-twisters here!
• Now everyone, say it together – “House” “Wine” – good! No need to worry about struggling with pronunciation of an exotic bottle, or even worse, about being corrected in front of your entire party!

We live in Canada – experiment at home

• Many places in the world serve wine cheaper than they serve water – in Ontario, this is just not so. With a mark-up on wine in restaurants and bars, this is not the best place to explore your palate. Test at home and choose with confidence in the future.

Go boldly into your next dinner date – no shifty pauses, no wayward glances, no down-played avoidance. Drink away, and find your bottle of choice. Until then, sit proudly, house wine it is!