Illustration: Rocco Fazzari.
Illustration: Rocco Fazzari.

Cathy Gowdie

When we go out in a group, I'm often asked to choose the wine. Any tips?

Most restaurants have a back entrance near the kitchen or a loading bay. Handily, it's often close to the toilets - you can pretend acute gastro, make a discreet exit and repair to the nearest wine bar for a solitary drink of something half-decent.

Pardon me while I laugh unkindly, because you've copped the poisoned chalice, chum. 

Too polite to do a runner? Pardon me while I laugh unkindly, because you've copped the poisoned chalice, chum. I'm assuming here that you're not the host for the night (in which case, choose and pay for whatever takes your fancy) and that you've been asked to order because you're the one at the table who is known to "know about wine". This probably means you spend more time and money thinking about wine and drinking it than anyone else present. But if you order the kind of wine you'd really like, your fellow diners are unlikely to want to chip in for a bottle at the price of a pair of Italian shoes.

So go down a price bracket, maybe three, and fish about for something that looks like value for money. A variety that's not terribly fashionable, or a good-looking blend, is often the way to go. Do your best to talk it up, because you know what's coming.

No matter how good the wine was, or how (relatively) cheap, on the way home, someone in your group will say to his girlfriend: "Did you like that wine Davo ordered? Nah, me neither. Bloody expensive, too - did you see the bill? And he's supposed to be the one who knows about wine."

Are you struck with wine angst? Contact our Agony Aunt by leaving a comment on this article.