How to Order 10 Different Types of Wine Like a Sommelier (or at Least Fake It)

To some, the art of ordering wine is exactly that: a true art form built on knowledge, experience, and a sophisticated palate. To others, it's a minefield of social faux pas and self-doubt. Whether you've done your due diligence and visited the wineries of Napa Valley and Tuscany, or you scarcely know your reds from your whites, anyone can learn how to order wine like a pro (or at least master the art of faking it).

Most people make common mistakes when ordering wine simply because they don't have access to the right information, according to Danielle Gillespie, CEO and founder of the wine discovery platform Cork Guru. However, it really just comes down to price, region, and year.

Price can clue you in on the region, rarity, or age of a bottle of wine, and a good rule of thumb is to avoid the second cheapest option on the menu. It's often the worst value since restaurants know people will order it hoping to not look cheap, according to Gillespie. The region tells you where the grapes were grown or where the varietal was produced and can hint at the quality of a wine. Finally, the year listed can be deceiving. Older is not always better, Gillespie warns. "Not all wines age well, not all wines are meant to be aged, and not all years are good ones for certain grapes."

If you still don't have a clue what to order your safest bet is to pick from the largest selection on the menu. This will give you an idea of what the wine director cares about most. Ahead, Gillespie breaks down exactly how to order wine like a pro. Learn how to describe common varietals, which regions to look for, and what food to pair your choices with.