An open letter on wine etiquette.
Dear Wine Drinkers,
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the paperwork I forget wine is actually enjoyable and social. I love pouring wine for you guys. Telling you stories about the wine and the farm and seeing you enjoy it, nothing gives me more pleasure than knowing the product I work with can create such pleasure.
I have worked more wine shows than I can count and I try my very best to maintain my level of enthusiasm from the first pour to the last. But alas, it’s not always that easy. Wine shows are long hours on your feet. Sometimes from 8am to 9pm without help. This past weekend I worked a show and realised yet again that I cannot get annoyed with the wine drinkers who do certain things to make my 12 hour day slightly more difficult if no one has ever corrected them.
So here goes, my Wine Drinking Etiquette 101.
Please look at the map on the brochure – I cannot tell you how many times I have answered the question “where is this farm?” If I say Stellenbosch, why can’t we just leave it there? Why do we have to drag this process out? Why make me explain it? YOU HAVE THE MAP IN YOUR HAND. Look at it before you ask. It has pictures and landmarks on it for those that really plan to visit.
Please don’t put your glass down for me to pour. Between me and your glass are minimum 5 bottles of wine, a business card holder, brochures and sometimes flowers. I need to talk to you while stretching over ALL of that to dribble all over your glass. Do me a solid and hold your glass steady right above the bottles on the table.
Please do not empty your glass in my ice bucket. That black bucket with a hole in the lid? That puppy is for you to empty out your unwanted wine. That silver thing with ice and a bottle of wine in it? That is not for you to spit in. I don’t see you spitting like a llama into ice buckets in restaurants. Please refrain from doing it at wine shows.
Please don’t bad mouth my neighbours wine when you get to my stand. You are entitled to like anything you want and unless you are a Cape Wine Master or Neil Pendock (for entertainment), do what your mother told you and zip it if you don’t have anything good to say.
Please don’t ask me what my “favourite” or “my best wine” is. You might as well slam my hand in the car door repeatedly. This is that painful. I can easily tell you which one MY favourite is. Is it the best wine the cellar makes? If you ask every staff member you will get a different answer from each. I don’t know you from a bar of soap. Do I know what your favourite food is? Do I know your favourite song? Book? No. Your favourite and my favourite might be worlds apart. Why not say “I am tasting one wine from each stand, I enjoy xxx for dinner, what do you suggest?” That, I can work with.
Please don’t help yourself. If for one quite minute I turn around to have a bite of a sandwich or blow my nose and the bottles are standing there on the table all alone, please don’t top up your own glass. You don’t know how much stock I have at hand and you might be taking the last bit of a wine I needed to stretch out for 2 hours. Also by pouring for yourself I know you have no interest in anything I have to say about the wine, you are just here to drink. (Psst, everyone else who sees this knows this now too and will purposely pour less for you now).
Please don’t get cocky with me when I refuse to pour wine for you 5 minutes after the show closes. There are these things called liquor laws and licences and no matter who you are, they are not worth loosing just to quench your thirst.
Please oh please for the love of God please don’t lift your glass WHILE I am pouring the correct tasting amount to signal me to stop pouring. This one really gets to me. I am not a bar tender. My aim is not to get you drunk on good wine. My aim is to pour the sufficient amount for you to be able to smell and taste my product properly. If these few droplets are too much for your constitution to handle, POUR THE REST OUT. We supply spittoons for this very reason. There is nothing that puts me off from engaging with you faster than the dreaded lift. I instantly no longer care what you have to say or even what you care about the product. Sorry.
Please don’t wash your glass out between every single wine you taste. Rule of thumb is rinsing it ONCE at each stand and just between reds and whites. You also do not need to fill the entire glass with water to wash it out. A few drops swirled around will do just fine.
These ticks apply to very few drinkers and the rest who I get to talk to makes dealing with The Lifters, The Washers and the Self Helpers all worth it.
Yours in wine.