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Eight irritating habits of people in the wine trade

The wine trade is largely made up of wine lovers happy to be working in an industry where they can indulge in their personal love of wine, but it also breeds some irritating habits.

From stingy pours to projectile spitters, we have rounded up a selection of the most commonly frowned upon habits committed by members of the wine trade, all in good fun.

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Projectile spitting

We have all seen them, those who consider spitting an Olympic sport. Lining up several yards from the spittoon, they impressively project their waste wine into a spittoon as if it were a basketball hoop. While we admire your skill, such showmanship is unnecessary.

People that don’t spit at all

We all know our limits and you might very well be able to taste some 50 wines without spitting, but you will likely be in the minority.

This is common behaviour at consumer tastings, and marginally more understandable, but a glazed expression and slurring your speech is just not a good look at a trade tasting, or worse, serving as a judge at a competition!

Indiscernible spittoons

A welcomingly obvious style of spittoon

While we understand the need to make spittoons discrete, sometimes efforts to conceal the desired spitting receptacle go too far, making it difficult to determine the intended vessel at all. Is it a spittoon? A vase? A jug? This type of confusion can only lead to embarrassment.

A friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous, was attending a tasting once and, with no other receptacle in view, began spitting into what they understandably believed to be a spittoon. Its intended purpose was only revealed when a waiter plonked a bottle of chilled white into the now half full vessel. It wasn’t a spittoon.

Tasting table hoggers

Journalists are perhaps among the worst offenders of this, keen to get those all important comments from tasting table attendees. On behalf of my profession I apologise. However it’s a common habit of many attending a tasting.

If a tasting is busy, it’s only polite to keep conversation to a minimum to allow the pourer to attend all tasters waiting a pour promptly.

Tasting crashers

The wine trade is an inclusive and welcoming industry, unless you are an uninvited freeloader. Every now and then you get a few chancers that get wind of a trade tasting and swagger in with a confidence that implies they had been invited.

They may prove to be a welcome addition to the crowd, keen to learn more and might even go on to buy a case. Usually, however, they are simply after the free wine. Giveaways to their true motivation include spending an excessively long time at the event in the first place, never spitting and rarely making eye contact.

Stingy pourers

Please sir, can I have some more?

We don’t want to waste your wine, but we also want to taste it. A finger width is just too little a measure and does nothing to show a wine in its best light.

Give us at least two fingers, but not that kind, and we will get on swimmingly.


Bottle hogs

This one refers more to open tastings, when bottles are not monitored by pourers and spittoons are merely a suggestion. This is how it goes. Guests arrive, scan the tasting list and pinpoint the best drops, perhaps an expensive Champagne or rare spirit. Within half an hour these bottles are drained, before you’ve even had a chance to track down its location.

Admittedly this kind of behaviour is rare among the trade, with the majority polite in their measures. At a consumer tasting? Get ready to race.

Excessive swirling, sniffing and general pretentiousness

This is perhaps the biggest complaint of all. While we appreciate a certain amount of sniffing and swilling is necessary, it can go beyond the realms of requirement. Sharing your views on a wine should be encouraged, of course, but not when doing so requires a dictionary and three minute monologue.

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