Ask Craig Decker what to drink with a well-seasoned piece of fish, and the first question he'll ask is, "What do you like?"

Ask Craig Decker what to drink with a well-seasoned piece of fish, and the first question he'll ask is, "What do you like?"

Common wine wisdom would tell customers who are eating fish to head toward a chardonnay, but chardonnay is not what the owner of The Wine Guy Wine Bistro in Gahanna and its nearby sister restaurant, Ciao Vino Italian Kitchen, likes.

And it might not be what you like, either.

In the end, finding the right wine for each particular customer is the goal of his wine lists. (Decker also has Wine Guy shops in New Albany and Pickerington and three locations in Cincinnati.)

"It doesn't do me any good to prove to a customer how much I know about wine," he says. His wine lists reflect that attitude.

He leaves off the vintages because "generally speaking, people aren't going to know the difference." And he doesn't include what he considers useless information to most customers: "We're not going to include residual sugar or what side of the hill the grapes were grown on."

What he does include, however, is a brief description of each wine, something most wine lists in Columbus don't have. There's no guessing what's in the bottle here, he says.

At the Wine Bistro, for example, wines are divided into flights: sweet, international, white and so on. Within the flights are the names and prices, then a brief explanation of what the customer can expect, making the list particularly diner friendly.

The Allmand Malbec in the international flight, for example, is described like this: "Leather and cherry combine to make this a soft, easy drinking wine with a perfect finish that just fades away cleanly."

Customers can select a particular glass or bottle or take part in the flight to compare wines in a similar category.

Decker steers clear of making food suggestions on the wine list because, again, he doesn't want customers to feel limited. But if they want a perfect pairing with a certain food from the contemporary menu with an Italian flair, he has people on staff to help with that decision.

At Ciao Vino Italian Kitchen, the wine list is divided by region and style: Italian reds and whites, California/West Coast reds and whites, sparkling wines and sweet wines. Like the Wine Bistro menu, each wine includes a brief description.

The sweet wines get their own category, Decker says, because they remain his biggest seller-they're his first-, second-, and fifth-best sellers-even though most customers who come in will tell him they don't like sweet wines.

The confusion, he says, comes in the language. People use words like "bold" or "big" that can mean different things to different people. Decker tries to direct them to words he can understand: fruity, dry and, yes, sweet.

He makes suggestions for wine pairings from both the Bistro and Ciao, but he says the best way to navigate his menus is to talk to him or one of his well-trained staff members.

"Let's not talk about me," he says, referring to his selections to go with the menu. "My sophistication level has nothing to do with what my customer drinks.

"Let's talk about you."

The Wine Guy Bistro

Dish: Cioppino Italian Seafood Stew ($23.99), scallops, shrimp, clams and mussels on a small bed of spinach risotto in a spicy tomato broth

Wine pair: Durnberg "Falko" White Blend, Falkenstein, Austria ($7.99 a glass, $25.99 a bottle). "Finding a wine that allows everybody to be seen-the seafood, spicy red sauce and risotto-is important," Decker says. This blend of Gruner Veltliner, reisling and chardonnay has tangerine in the nose, followed by a bright acidity that makes it fun to drink.

Dish: WG Chicken Mac and Cheese ($18.99), grilled chicken with a creamy sauce and five cheeses topped with panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan and bacon

Wine pair: Lincourt "Steel" Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills ($7.99 a glass, $25.99 a bottle). "When cheese is blended with melty goodness, I always find that chardonnay makes it all happen," Decker says. This chardonnay has lively acidity to cut the richness of the dish.

Ciao Vino

Dish: Braciole ($19), thinly pounded beef with mozzarella, bread crumbs, garlic and Romano, slow cooked in red sauce and served with pasta

Wine pair: Enzo Boglietti Nebbiolo ($10 a glass, $40 a bottle). "The sauce plays a big role here, so I like to go for classic big reds from Italy," Decker says. This wine is made from a Nebbiolo grape that is also used in Barolos, so it has an Old World nose with dark cherry flavors and a dry finish.

Dish: Meatball appetizer ($12), housemade meatballs in red sauce with a sprinkle of grated Romano

Wine pair: Albola Chianti ($7 a glass, $24 a bottle). "Simple is always best," Decker says. The wine, with soft cherry fruit and a light finish, allows the wine and food-including the Romano-to marry together in harmony.