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Apr 29, 2008 07:40 PM

How do you feel about NOT ordering wine at $$ dinners?

I'm Asian, and tend to turn beet-red when I drink small quantities of alcohol. I do like tiny glasses of wine, but I tend to prefer to not drink wine with my meal at restaurants.

I find that at higher-end restaurants, is it considered "ok" to not order wine with the dinner? I'm always amazed at how a little bit of wine will literally double the bill - but I do feel somewhat strange when I get various offers for the wine list, and I turn them down.

Just wondering - I know wine's one of the prime moneymakers for restaurants, even the high-end ones.

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  1. Don't feel strange. I hardly drink anymore and restaurants understand (or should understand) that people abstain from alcohol for various reasons -- pregnancy, former alcoholic, health, religious, don't like the taste of alcohol, etc. Nobody has ever treated me poorly or said anything snide to me for this behavior.

    1. I feel fine not ordering wine if I'm eating at a restaurant, even if the food/restaurant is in the upper echelon. I find it's important to distinguish between the restaurant and the server. If the restaurant is worth its salt, they should treat you the same. Unfortunately, I have encountered waiters being noticeably colder and ignoring of my party if wine is not ordered. This is unprofessional, childish and implies that the server has not acquired manners or proper training. However, you have NO OBLIGATION to order wine if you do not want it. Dining out is an experience for the customer. How do they know you don't have a health condition or a religion preventing alcohol consumption? And before someone complains that this reduces the tip, I have worked in food service and have always graciously accepted what my guests ordered--because it was my job not to be a jerk to patrons.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bookmonger

        Good point about the distinction between the restaurant itself and the server.

        My husband is a non-drinker and i rarely order more than one glass of wine. We've run into attitude from servers because of this. We find it to be mostly in the mid-range. Never once at a high end establishment has there been any issue however. This is one of a few reasons we tend to avoid most mid range options these days and stick to inexpensive ethnic and the occasional splurge on the high end.

      2. I don't really have a taste for wine at all. I wouldn't hesitate to order water in a fine dining restaurant. Or any restaurant, really.

        1. You should order whatever you want, or don't want.

          You're there to enjoy your dinner -- not to please the restaurant owner.

          1. I was a waiter for years, including in a four star restaurant. I never expected my parties to order wine. Sure, it can drive up the check, so it was good when it did happen, but expected it? Never.

            When I want wine, I order it -- but when I do it's usually just a glass. If I don't, I never give it a second thought.