Sitting down at a restaurant to find a wine list rivaling the size of War and Peace can be daunting, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We consulted with wine experts for their advice on how to tackle the wine list at a restaurant. Never be intimidated again!

William Rohlfing


Assistant General Manager and Beverage Director at Sorellina

“I’m usually looking for value. Also, I usually focus on the strength of the wine list, since that’s usually where there will be bargains. Every now and then you can find something that is incorrectly priced to your benefit if you know what you are looking for. Last time I went out to eat, I had a bottle of 1er cru Chablis for $35, the price the village level should have been, and a bottle of 2006 Cote Rotie for $75. I generally try to avoid the ‘cellar selections’ sheet that some places have. It’s like a bin end, and they may be there because they are uncertain of the quality of the bottle due to storage.”

Lorenzo Ruggeri


Editor of Gambero Rosso Wine Travel Food

“When I’m abroad I check the Italian wines on the list, so I can get an idea of their full selection. I focus on the cheapest wines first in order to evaluate the underlying policy.”

Christopher Prewett


Cetrified Sommelier and Fine Wine Sales Manager at The Jug Shop

“Generally, a list that wasn’t obviously “curated” from a single supplier by said supplier’s sales rep. Specifically, something earthy and with “funk & elegance” (as she would say) my partner would enjoy as much as me — Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir from New Zealand or 2007 Domaine Rolet Trousseau from Arbois, France.”

Marybeth Bentwood

(@WinesofChile @marybethwine)

Executive Director of Wines of Chile

“I ask to speak to the wine director or sommelier. I’ll ask them to show me which wines they’re most excited about on the list. ”

Véronique Sanders


CEO of Château Haut-Bailly

“The best quality / price! Or the one my husband would dream of.”

Leah Hammer


Director of Cellar Acquisitions at Vinfolio

“A good mix of the traditional regions, along with some up-and-comers, with growers known for value. And something within my price range, of course.”