Top 10 ways to wind up a wine lover
From waiters overfilling your wine glass to restaurant mark-ups and poor pronunciation, we round-up the most irritating habits guaranteed to tick-off a wine lover.
Despite the old stereotype of a “wine snob”, wine enthusiasts are, on the whole, a pretty easy-going collective. However there are some things that will rile up even the most laid back oenophile.
Beware, the following habits are entirely capable of causing a wine lover a certain amount of internalised rage,
Click through for the drinks business’ most irritating wine habits….
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Waiters that top your glass to the rim
Few things get a wine lover more riled than an over filled wine glass. A waiter may think he is being generous, but an overfilled wine glass is merely an irritation and and a barrier to tasting a wine in the way that its maker intended. Much of the experience of wine tasting is olfactory. By filling your glass to the top you limit your ability to swirl and release its aromas, minimising its quality. As a general rule fill a glass by no more than half allowing the aromas to be released and captured.
What’s more, serving wine in larger glasses has been proven to ensure that punters drink quicker. A study by Cambridge University found that serving wine in larger glasses may trick the brain into thinking it is drinking less and encourage people to order more. This may be a helpful ploy for on-trade outlets, but from a consumer’s perspective four small glasses will extend the pleasure of a bottle over a longer period of time than two large.
Waiters that take control of your bottle
Again, this is a well-meaning habit, but ever so irritating. While a good sommelier should be on-hand to serve your wine, taking excessive control of your bottle is not always welcome. Topping up everyone’s glasses may seem helpful, but is also a strategy to get you through the bottle and onto the next. People’s drinking pace also varies, so while the party animal in a group might have already drained two glasses, you might only be on your first, leaving you short-changed. Having paid £40, £50 or more for a bottle of wine most people I know would prefer to control the bottle themselves.
When wine is served in stubby water glasses
While I would never demand crystal glassware served on a silver platter, I do prefer my wine in a stemmed glass. It does serve a purpose after all, keeping the wine at the correct temperature. It’s the short, thick-glassed tumblers that should be reserved for water I have a problem with.
Boasting about your wine cellar
Tasting Petrus or Lafite is, for many, a one-off opportunity. The chance doesn’t come around all too often, even in the trade. Such occasions warrant a post on social media – an Instagram snap or jubilant Tweet perhaps. However some take the ritual of telling their followers what they are drinking to the extreme with a tone that borders on bragging. Mostly, we are just jealous of you stellar cellar / social life. Besides, if you’re drinking first growth Bordeaux on a regular basis, you can probably afford to take such criticism on the chin.
Wine served at the wrong temperature
Reds should be served at room temperature and whites straight from the fridge, is the common approach to serving wine. More often that not, this is a very good rule of thumb. However if you are dining out or opening a particularly good bottle, it’s a good idea to more finely tune a wine’s serving temperature. Here are the ideal guidelines for every style of wine, according to fine wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd.
- Sparkling and Champagne = 5-10 °C
- Light sweet whites = 5-10 °C
- Dry light aromatic whites = 10-12 °C
- Medium-bodied dry whites = 10-12 °C
- Full-bodied sweet whites = 10-12 °C
- Full-bodied dry whites = 12-16 °C
- Light reds = 12-16 °C
- Medium-bodied reds = 14-17 °C
- Full-bodied reds = 15-18 °C
MerloT and Mo-AY
You can check out more drinks pronunciation pitfalls here, however two of the most irritating are pronouncing the ‘T’ in Merlot, and conversely, assuming Moët is pronounced Mo-Ay. The latter is actually pronounced Mo-ETTE, and you can point anyone who says otherwise in our direction.
Any pretentious behaviour
Wine is for all to enjoy and a snobbish attitude doesn’t do anyone any favours. Signs that you could be slipping into Snobsville include fighting the urge to admonish someone for not knowing their Beaujolais from their Bordeaux or taking more than a minute to describe the taste profile of a wine.
Check out these videos for more on how not to be a wine snob.
Restaurant mark ups
Mark ups on wine are unfortunately a necessary part of profitability, and as consumers we expect to pay a little more for a bottle if it is being served in a restaurant, but it doesn’t make a 70% mark up any less irritating. (Wine Folly has a very good article explaining why this is the case here).
If you are in the trade, your knowledge of ex-cellar prices can make dining out an even more painful experience, knowing you could drink the same bottle for a fraction of the cost at home. This means you very well may be a fan of (Bring Your Own Booze) BYOB establishments, which allow you to bring your own wine for a set cost per bottle, which leads us neatly onto our next irritant…
Excessive corkage fees
Restaurants that offer a BYOB policy should be encouraged applauded even, having made dining out in London that little bit more affordable. Hawksmoor in London charges a £5 corkage fee per bottle, whatever the size, on Monday evenings. However excessive corkage fees simply nullify what might have been a generous offer in the first place. In some cases, excessive corkage charges mean that bringing a bottle worth less than US$150 pointless.
While at the extreme end of the spectrum, Napa’s French Laundry restaurant charges US$150 per bottle. Similarly Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas charges $100 a bottle and Masa in New York charges $95. Such charges might be worth it if you are bringing an expensive bottle, which would otherwise be even more expensive if bought off a restaurant’s wine list. Typically, corkage charges rarely exceed $50 throughout the US.
Giving people really good wine only to be served rubbish
Most wine lovers have a cellar filled with better-than-average bottles. On occasion, they may take such a bottle as a gift when attending a party. By all means, the host is welcome to keep the bottle for another occasion. It was intended as a gift after all, but your guest will thank you if you make sure to serve something of at least vaguely comparable quality.