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The Etiquette of Wine
© by Linwood Slayton
I love the social aspects of enjoying fine wine with good people. The old adage about in "vino" there is "veritas" meaning that wine will tend to bring out the truth is often quite real. I find myself enjoying observing how people tend to act when sitting around one's living room or bar, talking and drinking bottles of wine.

In my circle of friends, it is understood that an invitation to my home carries with it the unstated request to bring a bottle of wine since that is what we will be drinking. Of course, those who prefer Vodka or something else also know that they need to bring same. The first thing I find amusing at times is what people will say when they come with bottle in hand - some are quite proud of the bottle they selected for the group to experience; others are somewhat sheepish and apologetic and mumble some words about they just picked up something at the market because they didn't have much time.

I suppose that they may have a need to explain their choices to me knowing how much I am into wine and how much I love good and new selections. This is why the proud offerors of something they like and know I will like do want everyone to know how proud they are of their selection.

Then there are those who really could care less about what I or anyone else in the group thinks as they are quite secure within themselves and buy and bring whatever they like. I have a friend who is not a wine drinker and could care less about wine; one evening he brought in a brown bag and gave it to me as I was busily pouring glasses for my guests and when the bottle I had in my hand was empty, I immediately grabbed the bottle this friend had just handed me and got my trusty corkscrew and inserted it into what I automatically assumed was the cork. Imagine the shock, chagrin and consternation I felt when the corkscrew went straight through the thin metal screw top that was on this particular bottle of "vino"! He will forever be known to those of us who know and love him as "Screwtop".

One final comment about people and behavior when imbibing socially. As the wine flows and one bottle becomes three, four and on and on (depending upon the number of people and the length of time spent together), it is incumbent upon the host/hostess to try to monitor their guests' behavior and slow down the pourings when tongues get a little looser and the wine starts inducing truth. Some of my friends have found themselves being the object of overly blunt remarks and some have skin a little thinner than others. Good hosts should try to ensure that no one's evening is spoiled by a careless, insensitive remark that would not have been made but for the wine indulged.

For the record, people who know me and socialize with me know to avoid sitting to my right at the table because I can become a bit animated when I am holding forth and talking and sipping good wine and I have a tendency to gesture with my right hand sometimes causing a glass to come into contact with my hand and the wine to flow onto someone's dress or shirt or worse, onto the carpet. The worst sin of all, however, is I may spill the last glass of the best wine of the evening!

May 11, 2001

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