There was a scene a few weeks ago in my new favorite show Girls on HBO. One of the titular girls meets a guy who tells her that when they sleep together for the first time, it’ll scare her. “Because I’m a man,” he says, “and I know how to do things.” It was the perfect line to symbolize the difference between cocky and confident.
In my experience, some girls respond well to both. Cocky gets old, though. Confidence is lasting. You want to exude confidence on a date and leave cocky on your dresser next to your old bottle of Polo Sport. The best way to show confidence on a date right away? Order wine like a boss. It’s a great way to say “You’re in good hands with me, lady,” and “We’re going to get classy drunk tonight.” To get the lowdown on how to look like a wine baller, I talked to Spencer Cruse, the beverage director and sommelier at Drago Centro, the best Italian restaurant in downtown LA and a place that hosts a ton of dates.
Right off the bat, Cruse says to find out what your date loves and if she’s up for being adventurous. If there’s a specific varietal/region/style that she’s really into, score some easy points by ordering to her tastes. Go by the glass at first to ease into things. Cruse suggests starting with bubbles. “You don’t have to break the bank for a good sparkling wine,” he says. “There are some amazing Cavas, Proseccos, Crémants and Franciacortas out there.” Just make sure you know how to pronounce Crémants ahead of time so it doesn’t sound like you’re ordering the cream ants.
After you get things rolling with a sparking glass of whatever, move on to a bottle. Red or white is equally acceptable and if you’re not Robert Parker, now’s a good time to bring in some professional help, i.e. the sommelier. It may seem like a cop-out to call over the somm, but it actually shows that you’re secure enough in what you don’t know to ask for some help. The key here is to have a conversation instead of just blindly asking for a rec. Flash whatever wine knowledge you do have by talking about bottles you’ve liked in the past. To get a good recommendation without taking out a second mortgage (or third, if you’re really American), tell the sommelier you’re looking for something new and exciting “similar to this bottle” and then point to the price on the menu. Cruse says a good somm will read your signals loud and clear and steer you towards an appropriately priced wine. If you play your cards right, the sommelier will actually make you look like the expert, so don’t be afraid to bring in a consultant. Big time CEOs do it all the time.
One word of warning when you’re trying to impress via fermented grapes. It can seem like a good move to go exotic with your choice, but there are a lot of pitfalls when you order the unknown. Like a blind date, you could wind up with your future oenological soulmate or you could be counting down the minutes until the whole ordeal is over. I’m all about stepping out of your comfort zone, but don’t go too far. Txakoli may sound cool, but you don’t want to be the doofus who tries to explain that you just picked it because the name sounded like “chocolate-y.”
Take a little time to learn the basics of the wine world so when you find yourself staring at that massive wine list, you can navigate it like Columbus. Your date will definitely be impressed. A man that knows his way around a wine list is more likely to be a man that knows his way around *ahem* other things, too. Get confident with your wines, dude. Because you’re a man and you know how to do things.