This seems to cause a lot of stress and anxiety. First, ask
your companions if they have any wine preferences or dislikes.
(Preferences could be reds versus whites, or Syrahs versus
Zinfandels, or Napa/Carneros versus Russian River Chardonnays.)
You can also ask them what they’re going to be ordering.
Trying to match wines to the meals can be difficult, especially
as you have more people, and more variance in the meals.
Second, ask the waiter, wine manager or sommelier for help with the wine list.
Give them whatever information you’ve gathered from your table, and also any price
constraints. These people want you to order the wine to enhance your dining
experience, and they are there to help you. (Any wine is going to add to the
bill, and they all have significant markup, so they’re not going to just point
you towards the expensive wines.)
Third, when in doubt, go for the lighter
bodied reds. A Sauvignon Blanc for white wine lovers would be a good way to
start out a meal with a starter or salad, then you can move on to either a Pinot Noir
or Merlot for the main course as they can usually be counted on to be a very food
friendly wine, going with anything from steak to chicken to stronger fish dishes.
These lighter bodied reds might overwhelm a more delicate fish dish; in that case
you might think about just ordering a single glass of a white if someone would like
that with their fish.