Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Asshole's Guide To Ordering Wine

Let's get the obvious out of the way.  No one wants to be a dick.  But despite our intentions to the contrary we somehow succeed.  A lot.  Especially when it comes it ordering wine and that surrounds it.

To help overcome this social retardation, we humbly offer a survival guide of sorts...a way to make it through a wine ordering experience without looking like an asshole.  Don't worry, it's easy.  These simple rules are more about what avoid than what special skills are required (absolutely none)...

Rule #1: Don't Assume
Embarrassing moments are guaranteed when you assume - or ignore - what your companions have a taste for.  Ask them.  Up for a bottle of red?  Or should we order by the glass?  Common courtesy.

Rule #2: It's Not Okay To Read At The Table
The wine list is not the latest issue of Cosmo, so quit salivating like it is.  It doesn't matter how long the list is, you've got a 2 minute limit.  Anything beyond that and you're doing the equivalent of getting lost in the '21 Naughty Sex Tips' article.  Impolite.

Rule #3: Don't Complain About The Prices
Nobody likes a whiner.  Deal.

Rule #4: Know What You Know
See something you recognize?  Something appropriate?  It's your lucky day.  You do not get extra points for belaboring the decision.  You do get extra points for decisiveness (but only if you've followed Rule #1).  Go for it.

Rule #5: Know What You Don't Know
Look, you either know or you don't.  That in-between area you're fooling yourself into is a bullshitter's playing field.  If you don't know the wines on the list, get some help.  Man up.

Rule #6: Get Help
An entire book could be written about how to have this conversation, but it all boils down to this: Say what you want in terms you are comfortable with and don't pretend to know/understand anything you don't.  Ask questions, even if they seem stupid - especially if they seem stupid - no one is going to laugh at you.  If they don't recommend wines in different price categories guide them there by asking about wines in your comfort zone.  Bravo.

Rule #7: It's a Cork, Not Genitalia
Someone's going to present, open, and pour a taste.  The cork will be placed on the table.  Repress your animal instincts and refrain from fondling it.  Pick it up and give it a quick look to see if there's been any seepage.  That's it.  Any more handling might look suggestive.  Seriously.

Rule #8: If It Sucks, Send It Back
Nicely.  The tableside ritual happens for a reason. It's the establishment's way of saying, 'Here's what you asked for...Acceptible?'  If you accept, it's yours.  So, if it's funky, say so.  No reason this needs to be awkward - have the waiter/sommelier taste it.  "Uh-oh. I'm not sure that this is what the winery had in mind.  You mind giving it a taste?  If you think it's okay, then I'm fine with it, but it seems a little off to me."  Nicely.

Rule #9: Wine Is For Drinking
Wine is a beverage. An elixir. A social lubricant. Treating it any more seriously than that threatens our ability to enjoy it.  Unless you're with similarly empassioned geeks, less wine talk, more wine drink.

Rule #10: Enjoy
This may seem dumb, but is more easily forgotten than you'd think.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself.  It's harder to be an asshole when you're smiling.  Cheers.

5 comments:

  1. Totally guilt of being that guy. Nice tact in #8, good reminder in #9. As for #7, is there a Freudian connection?

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  2. Thanks, Anonlymous. I, too, am guilty of many, if not most, of these. Especially reading the wine list like it's Cosmo. And #7. And #3. Oh, and #10, and #...oh, screw it...I AM that asshole. Now, if I could just take my own advice...

    Cheers,

    Steve

    Cheers!

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  3. I'm so chuffed I came across this article, hilarious! Particularly appreciate the genitalia/cork comparison! I wonder how many know-it-all twats a sommelier has to put up with on a daily basis!

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  4. While this doesn't quite fit into the article, here's a tip for getting red wine at a restaurant: when you know what you want, ask them to put the bottle of red wine in the fridge during your appetizer and then open it up during the main course. A lot of restaurants keep their wines in non-climate controlled areas, so they're actually served too warm (most people are unaware of this). Warmer wines will show off more alcohol, while slightly cooler wines will show off the complex fruit flavors and layers of mineral, etc.

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  5. Great tip! Acutally did that last night with a (very) warm Crozes Hermitage at a restuarant, though the meal was almost over by the time it dropped to a decent temp.

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