Here, four tips for getting on almost any somm’s good side.
1. Reach out beforehand. If you have an important meal coming up or one for a large group, it might make sense to try to speak with the sommelier ahead of time. If you call or visit during off-hours, you’ll have an opportunity to go over the list in an unrushed environment and reveal your exact spending preferences. Bonus: You’ll look super-savvy when your guests arrive to find wine chilling on the table before anyone even sits down.
2. Ask what they like. Somms love wine, and they love sharing what they’re into. Ask about their backgrounds and their favorite bottles.
3. BYOB gracefully. Sommeliers spend copious amounts of time on their wine lists and want their customers to appreciate what they offer. There are two key rules: Don’t bring anything that’s on the list, and tip according to the cost of an equivalent bottle if you’d ordered it.
4. Offer to share. If you’re drinking something rare, geeky or expensive, the sommelier would probably love a taste. Sometimes you’ll earn a return on your wine investment in the form of freebies.