(By Mara Siegler and Spencer Bronson) Dropping some wine knowledge is an easy way to look cool and score some classy points, especially when you're trying to woo whoever you're trying to look classy in front of. The only downside is, well, you probably don't know what you're talking about when it comes to wines. Don't worry, neither do we! But we've got you covered with some pro tips on faking it. This man doesn't actually know about wine, he just knows how to look at it like he does—and you can too!
1) Find out your date's own wine knowledge. If they could be considered expert (read: they work as a sommelier or grew up on a vineyard), abandon the idea of trying to impress them this way. Maybe even take this opportunity to (really) learn a little about wine yourself! If you were banking on the wine thing a little too heavily, now's the time to dig deep into your bag of skills (or lies) and come up with something else, even if it's embarrassing. Say you collect vintage toothpicks and know the entire history through the ages, or have a fascination with clown noses—this is far less shameful than spewing nonsense you'll get called out on in a second. Though if you came into this situation hoping to impress someone by lying to them and have nothing else to fall back on, maybe you have some bigger issues to deal with. (Look out for the next in this series, "The Guide to Being an Interesting Person With Things to Talk About.")
2) Now that you have gauged how likely you are to lie and get away with it, make sure your wedding ring is removed and placed securely in your pocket. (Just kidding. Bastard.) But really, you must gather your inner confidence. It's important to project at all times, but even more so when you are not confident, such as, you know, when you're pretending to know about something as esoteric as wine. Overact it like you're doing a Shakespeare play or a Disney Channel show. Think pretension.
3) When the waiter comes over, ask for his recommendation. In almost all cases just take his suggestion. Depending on how you want to approach this, you could always go with the most expensive bottle on the menu if you want to show off how much cash you (pretend to?) have, or just go with the house wine. Remember that red goes with red meat while white goes with white meat like fish, and with chicken it depends on how it's cooked. In case the wine menu isn't conveniently categorized, you should have some basic working knowledge of what's what for some more common varieties.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all reds
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are all whites
If this isn't a summer dinner outdoors with someone you're comfortable won't judge, you probably don't want to order a rosé, but know that one of the most popular ones, Zinfindel, is actually a white wine. Waiters will correct you if you try to order a "pink Zinfindel."
4) When its brought to your table, they will give you a small sample. Sniff it—really, sniff it. Get your nose in there. Close your eyes for emphasis. If you've seen the movie Sideways, you already know what to do here. Actually, just watch that movie and practice imitating everything they do. Swirl the sample around in the glass vigorously and conspicuously and tell people that you're "letting it breathe." If you are really trying to drive home the point that you are of high means and high culture, then send it back to let her know that you will only settle for the best. Make a big show out of. The grander the arm movements, the grander you will seem.
5) When you're satisfied that you've made the waiter scramble enough and the sample he gives you doesn'ttaste like piss or vinegar, finally decide that yes, this is acceptable. Give a simple nod of approval. Touch the cork to see if its dry. Swirl around your first full glass and get your nose in there one more time. Hold it up to the light and examine the color like a jewelry dealer. (It does look pretty cool, doesn't it?) Start with the tiniest sip, making sure to loudly smack your tongue against the roof of your mouth, because apparently that's the sound people make when they're really tasting something.
Comment on the wine's "subtle aromas," using terms like "fruity" or "nutty" or "dry" or "full-bodied" at your discretion—you've already determined that nobody around you really knows what's going on, so here's your chance to really try and come across as a confident connoisseur. If it's red you can use dark, savory-sounding words like "smoky" and "peppery"; if it's white you can use light, sweet-sounding words like "floral," "buttery" or "citrusy." Get creative! A New Yorker article reported that studies indicate even wine aficionados have no fucking clue what they're talking about when it comes to this stage and that how you taste a wine is mainly affected by how you're told it's supposed to taste, so hyping it up from the first sip is sure to convince other tasters that you've made an excellent choice.
6) Chug! Or gulp, or sip, or however you want to consume this overpriced bottle of Jesus Juice you're so thoroughly pretending to enjoy. You might not want to get so wasted that you let slip the truth behind the elaborate lie you've just spent the better part of an evening burying yourself in, but then again, you might also want to ease the pain of realizing how deeply you've just buried yourself in this elaborate lie. And try not to finish the bottle before the main course comes.
Remember, the best policy is to always be yourself. If you've read this far, you probably still don't know a whole lot about wine, and you definitely don't have an electronic tongue like the one they're working on in Barcelona, so you probably don't want to be spending your time with someone who cares so much they wouldn't grant you a second date over it. Honesty is better than any vintage!