Perplexing Pinot: Country divided in confusion over wine

-Six in ten Brits are confused about what a sommelier is, with a fifth believing they are someone who smells perfume-

  • 9 in 10 believe that choosing the house wine is the cheapest and easiest option
  • Only 30% of diners admit to feeling confident pairing wine with food
  • Cloying, legs and baked, three words less than 10% of diners understand in relation to wine
  • Almost 70% of under 24’s don’t know what a sommelier is


30 May 2017… There’s nothing better than a delicious glass of wine when dining out, but with over half the nation (56%) admitting to being confused about what a sommelier is, are we really getting the most out of our wine when we dine?

Research released today by OpenTable, the world’s leading online restaurant booking platform, shows that when dining at restaurants 66% of Brits will fall into choosing the house wine, with an overwhelming 90% believing it to be both the cheapest and the easiest option. Although house wine may be the easiest option, it isn’t always the cheapest and it is in fact named ‘house wine’, as it is simply the houses’ recommendation.

From mind muddling Merlot to perplexing Pinot, diners feel confident in describing wines as ‘full bodied’ ‘corked’, ‘sweet’ and ‘acidic’ but only 1 in 10 understand terminology such as ‘legs’, ‘cloying’ and ‘baked’ when it comes to describing their wine.

It seems that we should respect our elders when it comes to wine as almost two thirds (67%) of over 55s knew what a sommelier’s role was, whilst only 30% of 18-24s could correctly identify the role. Additionally, a fifth of under 24s admitted to feeling too embarrassed to ask their waiters about wine while dining.

Over half of those researched (56%) admitted they don’t feel confident enough to pair wine with their meal and don’t understand why a sommelier/waiter will give them the opportunity to taste the wine in a restaurant. In a bid to make sure diners feel more confident in paring their wine with their dining experience, OpenTable has teamed up with a top sommelier at The Gordon Ramsay Group to give some top tips on choosing the right wine.

Antonio Roveda, Head Sommelier at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, comments, “The role of a sommelier is to help guide you through a wine list and choose the best wine to complement your food, ensuring you do not feel intimated by the choice on offer. At the Savoy Grill, we want our guests to enjoy the whole dining experience and choosing the right wine plays a huge part in that. We advise diners to speak to the sommelier and to be honest about what they are looking for, without feeling any pressure. This will not only allow the diner to choose the right wine for their meal and price range, but it will also enable them to gain additional knowledge about their personal preference that can be used at their next restaurant occasion.”

Adrian Valeriano, Vice President, Europe, OpenTable, comments, “Wine and great food is the perfect combination for any restaurant experience and at OpenTable we are dedicated to ensuring everyone has the perfect dining experience time after time. With our research showing that some diners may not be confident in ensuring they have the best wine to complement their meal, we’re delighted to be working with Antonio Roveda from Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill to help uncork some of the wine myths diners have highlighted. Once you know your how to tell your Shiraz from your Cabernet Sauvignon, and which dish to pair it with, your restaurant experience will have never tasted so good.”


Top tips from Antonio Roveda, Head Sommelier at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill:

  • House wine is a restaurant’s flagship wine. It is usually medium bodied and well balanced to go with a whole host of key dishes. It isn’t necessarily the cheapest but it will generally represent good value for money.
  • Use your sommelier – It isn’t every day that you have a sommelier on hand so use them to learn more about wine. Today the sommelier presence across restaurants is very strong and they are easily identifiable. It’s great to try something different when you have professional advice.
  • Orange wine has been growing in popularity, so ask if this will go with your menu. It’s a versatile wine and tends to go well with seafood, fatty or salty foods. Your sommelier will always help you identify wines which are on trend and can also help with information about areas, vintages and producers as well as food and wine pairings.
  • Let the menu guide your wine choice. After choosing your food, the wine will need complement it. The strength of the food and wine are directly proportional – the stronger the food, the stronger the wine. Likewise, the sweeter the dessert, the sweeter the wine. When food and wine are equally matched, they neutralise each other and there is a balance of flavour for you to taste.
  • Go with a wine that you are comfortable with. You will enjoy the experience more if you are confident with what you have chosen or have been recommended.
  • The more you try different wines, the more you appreciate the different flavours and smells. Exercising the palate will allow you to understand the special bond between the food and wine.