Ideal Wine: Five Questions You Should Ask Your Sommelier

If you want to secure a spectacular vintage the next time you eat out read on, as the Ideal Wine Company clues you into five questions you should always ask your sommelier.

What is a sommelier?

A sommelier is a wine waiter at a restaurant. It’s their job to cultivate the establishment’s wine list, oversee wine service and train other staff in the mysterious ways of wine. They’re also responsible for suggesting wines to diners that would go perfectly with their meal.

Yet if you’re reading this blog we bet you’ve had a somewhat mixed record with sommeliers. There are some truly fantastic sommeliers out there, however there’s also some who should never be let near a wine list. If you find yourself confronted with the latter, often you end up with a vintage that contrasts so sharply with your chosen dish that it ruins the entire meal.

Five questions to pose to your sommelier

This is why it pays to see if your sommelier knows their stuff before you take their advice. Here are five questions you should ask your sommelier before you choose a wine:

  • Where does the wine come from? If the sommelier suggests a particular vintage, they should be able to recite its history at will. The source of a wine’s origin can tell you about its character, grape variety and flavour, so if your sommelier doesn’t know where the vintage came from, they most likely don’t know the vintage at all.


  • What does the wine taste like? This is basic but it needs to be asked. The shoddy sommelier will use generic terms but their talented equivalent will be able to get into the complexities of the vintage they’re suggesting to you. If they sound like they know what they’re talking about, they probably know what they’re talking about.


  • What’s on your wine list? Simple but effective. You don’t want to utilise the services of a sommelier who’s memorised a few easy-to-remember bottles, as this means you won’t get the chance to sample the full range of vintages on the restaurants wine list.


  • What goes with this dish? If you pick a wine that complements your dish it can transcend your meal to new heights. A trained sommelier should be able to suggest a wine for whatever dish you throw at them. They should have worked it out through trial and error; that’s their job.


  • What’s your favourite wine on the list? The true sommelier is a wine enthusiast. They love what they do and if you ask them about their favourite wine on the list, they should be able to rattle off their chosen vintage before you can pause for breath. If they can’t, they lack the passion it takes to take on the considerably hard task of a sommelier.

Be your own sommelier

A sommelier’s job is to choose the wine you need to set your meal off right and have the night of your life. If they can’t do that they’re useless; dismiss them immediately, choose your own wine and become your own sommelier!


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