Is it OK to recommend a wine that I don't like?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Isn’t wine tasting subjective? Not everyone’s taste buds are the same. So how do I upsell if I don’t believe in the description I’ve been given for a wine? For example, Chardonnay doesn’t taste buttery at all to me; I think it tastes dry and oaky. Help me understand.

—James, Sacramento

Dear James,

You’re right that not only are our taste buds all different, but so are experiences and our vocabularies. And so are Chardonnays! Some can be buttery, some can be oaky, some can be both, some can be neither! I think that as a server, your insight will be particularly useful in recommending wines on the list to pair with dishes your customers are interested in.

I think it’s OK to suggest a wine by sharing both your own feelings and what others have told you about the wine, for example, “Some people describe this as buttery, but to me it has plenty of acidity to balance out the sauce in the salmon dish, and that would be a terrific pairing.”

—Dr. Vinny

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