Dating & Drinks - 5 Ways to Wow with Wine

Lauren Volper

We love wine. It's the perfect way to open up your first date.

Wine is easy to talk about, quite delicious, and most people that drink it have a favorite type. However, if you’re unfamiliar with wine, there are tons of challenges that can put a damper on a first date. Skipping your research could leave you fumbling over a wine list while your date stares on--it’s important to do your homework.

With these challenges come a few great opportunities to impress your date with a bit of quick planning. A few minutes of effort can lead you to navigate any wine list with ease, making a stellar first impression. Here are five challenges that people face with wine, and how to turn them into opportunities to wow your match on a first date:

Challenge: Your budget is tight but you still want to impress.

Opportunity: Plan ahead, bring your own wine.

Not just any wine, Champagne, and have it chilled at the restaurant ahead of time. I haven’t met anyone who didn’t enjoy Champagne, and the added effort of pre-planning and pre-chilling at the restaurant will negate any thoughts your date may have about you being cheap. Can’t afford Champagne? Cava, sparkling rosé, blanc de blanc are all acceptable substitutions (most can be found for $10 a bottle) and most people can’t tell the difference. You may want to steer clear from labels everyone has seen such as La Marca Prosecco, and Ménage-à-trois bubbly though. Instead, buy something from more of a specialty retail chain like Trader Joes, as their options are less recognizable.

Challenge: The wine list options are unfamiliar to you.

Opportunity: Study the list before you go out.

You wouldn’t go to a first date without checking yourself in the mirror or making sure your clothes are wrinkle-free, right? You should take the same pride and confidence in navigating a wine list as you do in your self-image--confidence is part of the package! Spend five minutes looking at the wine list before you meet to find what the best wine options are. Look at the Yelp reviews, the restaurant website, or even call the restaurant and ask to consult with the sommelier to assuage any wine list concerns ahead of time. This way 100% of your focus is on making your date feel like they are the only thing on your mind.

Challenge: The wine your date likes isn’t served where you’re headed.

Opportunity: Research comparable types of wine prior to the date.

Get to the restaurant early, secure a seat at the bar. A quick text to your match asking “what’s your favorite wine?” before the date shows that not only are you in for a fun night but shows your date that you’re interested in their taste preferences. Peruse the selections that are less familiar on the wine list ahead of time. Say your date says “Sauvignon Blanc” but you’re headed to a Spanish tapas bar, not a French bistro. A bit of research tells you that Vermentino is close in characteristics to Sauvignon Blanc. When the two of you meet, you can say “I know you love Sauvignon Blanc, so I thought we could share a bottle of this Vermentino since it closely resembles your favorite win.” Thoughtfulness like this makes for a great first date impression.

Challenge: What to order: wine by the glass or wine by the bottle.

Opportunity: Order a bottle, get a bit buzzed, have a fun night.

This one is simple - a little liquid confidence to loosen up makes for a fun date. Ordering a bottle signals generosity and that you’re here to stay awhile and enjoy the night. As most bottles yield 2.5 glasses of wine per person, you’ll have enough to last through the appetizer and meal, maybe into dessert.

Challenge: You prefer red, they prefer white.

Opportunity: Order separate glasses and swap tastes.

It’s okay to like different types of wine - this gives you a chance to add value by offering suggestions about different types of wine that would otherwise be overlooked. Here are some similar alternatives to common grape varietals:

  • Pinot Noir: try Gamay/Beaujolais
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: try Nebbiolo, red blends from Central Coast California or Zinfandel
  • Sauvignon Blanc: try Grüner Veltliner or Verdicchio
  • Chardonnay: try Viognier, Chablis, white Burgundy or Roussanne
  • Merlot: try Bordeaux blends or Sangiovese

Interested in learning more about wine? Check out for wine education, tastings and more.

Once you're feeling prepped to handle ordering wine with confidence, we invite you to join the round, match up, get out there, and split a bottle!

When it's the right time to make a move, we'll let you know.

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