Esther Mobley ’11 is a wine, beer and spirits writer at the San Francisco Chronicle.

First, the dirty secret: Even wine professionals probably don’t know most of the wines in that big book the waiter hands over. “There are tens of thousands of wines in the world,” Mobley says. “There’s no reason you should be able to look through a list and point to a specific bottle.”

Help the sommelier or wait staff help you by developing an “elevator pitch” with your preferences. “Tell them about a bottle of wine you enjoyed in the past, the food you plan to order and whether organic products are important to you,” she says.

And avoid the upsell. Many people feel cheap mentioning price, but there’s no point in getting a recommendation beyond your price range. “I always say what I want to spend,” Mobley says. “It’s not tacky. You don’t have to apologize for being on a budget.”

TWITTER: @esther_mobley

SAQ, Fall 2016