Any business that pays somebody specifically to wield a corkscrew -- also known as a sommelier, that person who serves and often selects a restaurant's collection of wine -- is committed to the grape.
So if you find yourself in a restaurant that has one of these specialists roaming the floor, be sure to engage him or her. Even if you're not venturing into the rarefied realm of the unaffordable or unpronounceable, even if you've just figured out that "sommelier" isn't a country in Africa, there's no reason why you shouldn't benefit from his or her expertise.
Decanting the knowledge at King West's Kultura (169 King East, 416-363-9000) is one of Toronto's most lauded sommeliers, Kim Cyr , who's happy to outline the approach she takes with people who might be suffering from wine-list intimidation.
"I usually ask them what they like. Sometimes they tell me what they've recently bought. I can give them tasters, because we sell so many wines by the glass. If they're unsure, I tend to start them with something less acidic, less tannic, like a Chablis or a Syrah."
Seeing this flexible approach combined with Cyr's's relaxed manner (she's from Cape Breton, after all), you begin to understand how a good sommelier can guide you down the crooked path of wine selection.
And if you really have no clue what sort of wine to order, just be yourself. The sommelier knows all.
"People's personalities can be very telling," explains Cyr. "Certain types of people prefer certain styles. Boisterous people like boisterous wine."
With Kultura's numerous smaller dishes, wine-matching can become a real focus, but Cyr also encourages a less studious approach.
"Sometimes I just step away so people can sit back and enjoy it. There's got to be a balance."
She also believes that people's biggest mistake is ordering their wine before knowing what they're going to eat.
"Wine knowledge is growing every day," she says, "but still, people order wine as a cocktail, and it might not be right for what they're going to have for dinner."
Cyr's list of current faves -- Australian Alberinos, fully fermented Rieslings, fino sherries -- are not obvious choices. She's happy to share these lesser-known options with adventuresome clients.
"It's stuff off the beaten track, like a muscat that clients will buy based on what I recommend. It brings some satisfaction."
But lest this all get too esoteric, let's remember that sommeliers are only human. Before the Amarones and Grand Crus, they, too, got blotto on cheap booze and lived to regret it. Cyr laughs at the memory of her first drunk.
"Beer, but I was only put off momentarily."