When it comes to finding the perfect wine bar, there are a few key things to consider. Any wine bar that takes pride in its clientele won't let them drink something they don't like. Don't be afraid to ask for a sample of the wines that interest you, as long as they are available by the glass, so you can try them. However, it's important to be mindful of your surroundings and not get carried away if the wine bar is busy.
Ordering samples at a wine bar or restaurant is no different than ordering samples at an ice cream shop. It's okay to try one or two before making your selection, but more than that is considered bad etiquette. Instead of continuing to try different wines, your partner should have had a conversation with the waiter about the wines they were interested in. People who work in a place that specializes in wines must be knowledgeable about the wines they serve, just like an employee of an ice cream parlor knows the different flavors of ice cream they serve.
By telling the waiter your preferences and other wines you like, you would have eliminated the need to try four wines before making a decision. The American wine palate is growing, as are the standards that define what constitutes a good wine drinking experience in a bar. For this reason, Spain, and most of the wine-producing countries of the old world, refer to wines by region and not by grape.