Wine Democracy Run Amok? A Heartfelt Debate

I’m all against wine
snobbery and for poking fun at the common wisdom and stereotypes of
wine that supposedly make it intimidating. But this egalitarianism can
go too far, and when it does, I end up having one of these dialogues
between my head and my heart, especially if I‚€™ve had too much wine.

Head: Have
you noticed lately that in almost every photo accompanying a wine
article, people are shown holding their glasses by the bowl?

Heart: So what?
They’re smiling, they’re having fun, and they’re not worried about the
‚€˜proper‚€™ way to hold a wine glass. Wine shouldn‚€™t be intimidating,
with all sort of social pitfalls in the way of enjoyment. Remember what
the wise old wag says: ‚€˜Life is too short to be scared of wine!‚€™

Head: Okay,
okay. But the problem is, that’s the WRONG way to hold a wine glass.
Fingerprints smudge the glass, detracting from the clarity and the
color; and the warmth from our hands can raise the temperature of the
wine. I don‚€™t think that‚€™s snobbery.

Heart: Sure sounds like it to me.

Head: Snobbery
is the imposition of rules that make no sense other than to demonstrate
one’s false sense of superiority. Holding a wine glass by the stem
instead of the bowl is not snobbery. It is clean. It is polite. And it
enhances the pleasure of the wine. Similarly, grabbing the glass by the
bowl does not demonstrate a devil-may-care, democratic attitude toward
wine. It is dirty. It is rude.

Heart:
And it shows that one is not hide-bound by silly rules. If you‚€™re so
knowledgeable in the ways of wine, why don‚€™t you chastise people at
dinner parties who grasp their glasses by the bowl?

Head: Because that WOULD be snobbery. And rude. And you won‚€™t let me.

Heart:
Look ‚€“ the main purpose of a glass is to transport liquid to one‚€™s
lips. Who cares if someone grabs the bowl or the stem, or even if there
isn‚€™t a stem at all?

Head: Please,
don‚€™t get me started on those sniveling idiots who invented the
stemless wine glass! These are the companies that elevated wine jerkdom
to a fine art by convincing us we need a separate set of expensive
stemware for each varietal or style of wine to direct the individual
flavors to the appropriately corresponding taste buds on our tongues.
The elites who demanded we mortgage our houses to buy the best stemware
were now telling us wine could be fun, no strings or stems attached!

Heart: There‚€™s another reason people like stemless glasses: They fit in the dishwasher.

Head:
Hmmmmm. Back to my point. That pamphlet from a major boutique hotel
chain extolling their wine program? Virtually every photo shows people
grabbing their glasses the wrong way, except for the series labeled
‚€˜Taste Like an Expert.‚€™ Suddenly hands are holding the stem for
swirling, sniffing and sipping. Then the final shot, labeled
‚€˜Enjoy!‚€™, shows them grabbing the bowl again. Look at all the
holiday party articles in the newspapers and magazines lately. People
are always shown holding the glass incorrectly. It‚€™s as if the
photographers or food stylists are telling them to do it that way.

Heart: And this angers you because ‚€¶ ?

Head: My
point is this: The media should show its readers and viewers the proper
way to enjoy wine. We don’t have to make a big deal out of it. But
showing smiling people enjoying their wine while holding the glass by
the stem will reinforce that lesson and make it second nature. We teach
by example. Let’s teach the right lesson.

Heart: How about the lesson of enjoying wine without intimidation?

Head: You wouldn‚€™t recommend Cabernet Sauvignon with shrimp scampi, would you?

Heart: Oh, goodness no! But if someone wanted to wash it down with Grechetto served in a tumbler, I wouldn‚€™t object.

Head: Harumph.

Heart: Cheers!

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One Response to Wine Democracy Run Amok? A Heartfelt Debate

  1.  Richard Best says:

    Hmmm…Could there be a parallel with other comestibles and
    their associated tools? People don‚€™t hold ice cream by the bowl, nor
    do they eat soup with a fork (usually). The wineglass was designed with a
    purpose and using it appropriately merely makes sense. For me, head and
    heart both say ‚€œDo you like warm wine? Do you like fingerprint
    covered glasses?‚€Regards,Richard Best ‚€“ The Frugal Oenophile

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