I came across a great article about the confusing and intimidating minefield of wine etiquette the other day - and I loved the general tone which is – don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy what you drink! I couldn’t agree more but like the author, I think there are a couple of things which you should still pay attention to when you’re drinking wine if you don’t want to offend everyone within corkscrew distance.
Here are my suggestions...
1. Taking a wine order from a woman – but bringing the wine to the man to taste
This is for anyone out there working as a waiter and obviously it’s a bit of a personal bugbear. But it is so RUDE! And sexist. And stupid – because if I’m paying the bill and you do this to me, then your tip has just vanished into the ether and serves you right.
2. Busking it – if you don’t know, then say so
This can apply to everyone – restaurant staff included. The world of wine is vast and I can’t think of anyone who would claim to know everything about it. But it’s worth bearing in mind before you shoot your mouth off, that in a wine-producing country such as SA, you have a higher than average chance that the person you’re talking to is fairly well-informed. You don’t look stupid if you say you don’t know something about a wine but you look really, really dumb if you claim to know it all - and then find the winemaker is quietly sitting opposite you at the dinner table.
3. Sneering at other wine drinkers in public
I’m not going to lie – there are a lot of wines that I don’t choose to drink anymore. But there have been times in my life when I’ve enjoyed the cheap, the semi-sweet and the mass-produced and I bet you have too, so why on earth would you look down at someone who still enjoys them? Get over yourself – what people drink and how they choose to drink it (with ice, with lemonade, with coke, whatever) is never a reason to be rude.
4. Hogging the good bottle at parties
Wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed – not hidden away in the scullery and surreptitiously sneaked into your glass when you think no-one’s looking. We see you – and we’re going to bring cheap crap to all your parties from now on.
5. Taking a half-full bottle to a restaurant and expecting to pay half the corkage
You think this isn’t a thing? Well, it is. And - no. Just no.
6. Assuming all women like pink wine cos, you know, girlie
I like pink wine for sure. And red. And white. And port, sherry, fizz, whisky, gin, tequila – if you’re going to make sexist assumptions as to my drinking preferences, it’s going to be a reeeeeeeally long evening.
7. Not bringing the bottle to the table when ordering a premium glass of wine
I'm looking at you, restaurants! If I’m paying good money for a glass of wine in a restaurant, I expect the bottle to be brought to the table or made visible to me so that I can see it (including the vintage), and then it should be poured. I feel disconcerted when a waiter or barman brings a ready poured glass of wine to the table, and it’s a R80-90 glass of something special you’ve chosen ... who knows what’s really in the glass, or whether it was the dregs from a bottle opened several days ago?
Do you do any of the above? Or is there something else unforgivable that really gets your goat when it comes to wine? Let us know.
Follow Cathy Marston on Twitter - @CathyMarston