During my stint as Vino bartender, I was witness to oodles of first dates.  “It’s just lunch”, “Plenty of Fish”,”Match”, “Zoosk”, “eHarmony”, “Bumble” and other dating apps bring together millions and Vino, Etc., in the hamlet that is Oconomowoc, is a central meeting place.


So, what makes a good first date location?  Is it a coffee house? Sure, that’s not a bad choice at all.  How about a nice restaurant ?  The Oconomowoc area has a dozen great places for food and libation.  But for my money, a wine bar is the perfect setting for that introductory date. Quiet, safe, open and comfortable - without the hustle of a traditional pub or the crowd of a good eatery, Vino, Etc. is perfect.  There’s plenty of soft seating, two huge, over stuffed couches and lots of room at the bar.  


There is also wine - lots of wine. “First date protocol” dictates ordering a glass before thinking about ordering and entire bottle just remember, a bottle is typically 4 glasses of wine.

I’ve seen dates work out and I’ve seen both parties leave by separate exits.  Successful romantic excursions usually follow a basic, general pattern: Wine, talk and cheese.


What to do on your first date at Vino, Etc.


“A man will be eloquent if you give him good wine.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Guys, arrive early.  Don’t make her wait.


Seating choice is important and even though there isn’t a bad place in the bar, the couches may be a bit informal and more appropriate for the second or third encounter.  Grab a couple of spaces at the bar. When the bartender comes over for your order, explain you’re waiting for your date, a first date, and ask for water.  


When your date arrives, after the brief introductions, get the conversation going by asking what kind of wine your new acquaintance prefers - Red or White? Remember, this is a wine bar, so you’re ordering wine, not a beer.  


This is key: Ask for samples of a red and a white - even if you know what you want, this is a great ice-breaker.  Hold the glass up and take in the view.  Cab’s will be dark red, Pinot Noir almost purple.  Sip, enjoy and order a glass.


“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” –Benjamin Franklin

The first glass is most significant.  This is a great opportunity to expand the conversation.  Say something, anything about the wine. If things are going well, order the cheese platter.  The cheese platter is a good sign. Enjoy the atmosphere, and the wine - wine and good conversation is a timeless couple. I’ve seen dozens of dates go well and even the ones that do not result in a second, the time spent was pleasant.


Here’s the payoff - during my thirteen months of bartending with Vino, I witnessed two weddings, one proposal and countless anniversaries - they returned to Vino to celebrate in the place they first met, dated or proposed.  Vino has a great track record for budding relationships. 


Come on in for a first or 100th date.