*The following is meant to be in good humor, please don't be offended by anything that follows, I realize it comes off as elitist, but hey, it's the wine business.
Insulated by layers of wine geeks, I find myself rarely coming into contact with the average wine consumers. I feel like I have a very good grasp on their habits, preferences, and the influences of the restaurants and retailers in their lives. But I rarely need to actually deal with them. Surprisingly, my home market of Toledo is a really sophisticated wine market with solid tastings on a regular basis hosted by people that love to teach. When I travel, I quickly realize how spoiled I've become. While at a consumer event this week, I couldn't believe the way these people acted around wine. Here is my open letter to wine consumers that attend tastings. If we are worth our salt as wine educators, we will teach each of these people the errors of their ways.
1) Most Important-you don't know as much about wine as I do (caveat-wine consumers only. In the trade, 1000's of you know tons more than I do). This is not a problem. I hope you don't know as much as I do, otherwise I suck. You on the other hand, should stop trying to impress me, and just listen for 3 seconds.
2) Yes, I've been to wine country, no I've never been to (fill in the blank). I'd love to hear all about your picnic drinking (blank winery), but there are 30 people behind you that just want to taste the next wine.
3) Forget you ever heard the word dry, there is no such thing as medium dry. It's a binary system, it is either dry or it isn't. Dry isn't a catch all. If you like sweet wines, just say it.
4) Have an open mind. You already paid for the tasting, quit looking for familiarity, the entire idea is to sample new wines. expand your horizons.
5) Blends are neither good nor bad. The next person that tells me they have started only buying blends is going to get smacked.
6) Don't tell me you love wine, but all you drink is Napa Cab. I already don't like you.
7) No French jokes. You can rip on Italians all you want, and any Southern Hemisphere bashing is encouraged. The French rule! You don't have to like the wines, but understand this is the most important wine country in the world, and if you stopped eating ketchup and drinking soda for 3 seconds you might like their wines.
8) No, 2-Buck Chuck isn't good, it never won any wine tasting competition, and when you think you're smarter than the average bear giving it as a gift, everyone know you're cheap, even if you buy a whole case.
9) Don't give the wine I'm pouring a score. I don't really like most of the people that do it for a living and have infinitely better palates than mine. Just pick up your case of Insignia and leave me alone.
10) You're not at a bar, quit acting like it!
Thanks for letting me air my frustrations. I'm glad I waited 2 days before posting that one, could have been offensive if I didn't have a cool down period...