How to not embarrass yourself while talking about wine

If you’ve ever choked up at a restaurant when the sommelier asks if you’ve had a chance to look over the wine list, or developed an immediate vendetta against anyone who claims to be a “wine expert”, then fear and hate no more.

While your vino knowledge may be lacking, read up on these nine scenarios to save yourself from being pigeonholed as a wine philistine.

1. Don’t say you’ll just drink anything

Whether you’re at a bar, restaurant, or house party, if someone asks what wine you’re in the mood for, don’t say that it doesn’t matter and that you’ll drink anything. It’s good to have an opinion, because it shows confidence. If you’re really unsure, a good rule of thumb is to think of your preference for beer or coffee as similar to your preference in wine. Let’s say you’re a fan of hoppy lager beer; that means you might enjoy delicately fruity and floral wines, like a Beaujolais. If you take your coffee black, this says you might prefer wine that’s a bit earthy with bright acidity, like a Pinot Noir. Form your opinion by thinking through other beverages (foods, too!) that you gravitate toward and make a choice: “I’m feeling like red wine today.” Bam, red wine coming up.

2. Don’t guess on the grapes

Sometimes people who work in winery tasting rooms will try to stump visitors with a question like, “Can you guess what grape this is?” If you don’t know the color of a wine based on the name of the grape, don’t play this guessing game: 50/50 odds do not a Kentucky Derby winner make. The next time you’re asked, don’t embarrass yourself by confusing Pinot Noir (red wine) for Pinot Grigio (white wine). Rather, turn the tables and ask your own question: “Can you guess how much money I’m going to spend here?”