JWL Issue #019: What to Order from a Restaurant

September 11, 2018

I was travelling a lot of last week, which means this week’s Taste is going to be single-merchant-specific. I spent the night in Bath and had dinner at the excellent Corkage.

Corkage is a wine bar with small plates, and do both very well. Their approach is not to offer a list (instead they respond to what you want), but I’m sharing my favourite tastings from the evening below.

It’s my final part of the series - how to order wine in a restaurant - in Learn below. How have you found this ongoing series compared to random learnings on a weekly basis?

Podcast recordings are done and dusted. Now just the process of editing and preparing to be shared. Thank you to everyone involved. It’s been great meeting so many winemakers and grape growers around England.


All tastings are from Corkage in Bath

Château De La Tuilerie produce an incredible white wine blend of grenache blanc and rousanne. It’s from the Rhône, has a soft, full body, with slight grapefruit and candied flower aromas on the nose. It’s everything I like in a white at the moment: perfect without food. 

Circle of Life from Waterkloof is a biodynamic, South African white (vegan friendly too). This chenin blanc / chardonnay blend marries citrus and stone fruits together, with a creamy texture on the palate. Under £14 at ND John. 

Seriously Cool Cinsault, also by Waterkloof, is a great red that we had alongside our mains. Red fruits along with a fleshy, lively palate: this was a great wine to pair with the food, bringing the fruit aromas forward. It's £12.50 from ND John.

It’s not often I have such consistently great wines in a single venue, and with fantastic food to match, Corkage is a must for anyone in the South West.


Ordering in a restaurant part four: what to order

The final and perhaps most important piece of learning: what to actually order. Here’s three ways to choose what to order.

  • Ask for advice: the best way is to ask your waiter for a recommendation. Go armed with a sentence or two about what you like. You don’t need to give detailed tasting notes here: “Full bodied whites” or “meaty reds” will work fine, maybe with a country qualifier of what you’re in the mood for. Likewise, asking for “something interesting” is usually a good way to get a great sommelier pick.
  • Vivino the list. Vivino (the app) has a wine list scanner which gives you ratings for each bottle on the list. This works okay as a feature but breaks quite often depending on light/specificity of the list. Remember: ratings don’t reflect what you’re in the mood for, only an averaged rating. A 4.1 star Nebbiolo means nothing if you want something really light and elegant. 
  • Choose something yourself. The final option. Take a stab with best judgement and best learnings you’ve made.



Some restaurants will offer you the ability to bring your own bottle for a price. Corkage fees range greatly depending on where you are. I’ve seen £5 corkage up to £65. Email or call ahead and mention you’ve got a bottle at the start.

Thanks for signing up!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.