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Wine Etiquette

Pusher Uppers & Puller Outers, and I’m not talking about body wear.

This one’s related to people who are in the wine business… People who have been at it so long that they look at someone who’s pouring wine with great disdain; even though that person pouring the wine knows a lot more about that product than the person who’s on the receiving end.

There can exist, in this particular business, a feeling of entitlement by members of the wine trade. People who have the fun duty of pouring wine (and this isn’t really good sarcasm, it’s actually pretty fun to pour wine in order to educate others) get to watch all kinds of behavior from their guests. When Wine Business Monthly published my story called “Road Warrior Survival Guide,” the feedback was enormous… So much so, that the following month had many, many Letters to the Editor in total agreement. I had hit a nerve while being pretty nervy.

So, back to the pusher-uppers and puller-outers.

Pusher-uppers first, because this one is the less desirable of the two for me personally. When someone’s pouring wine for you, and you’ve decided that that’s all you want, simply say, “Thanks.”

Think of it this way: it takes more effort to push up on a glass when someone’s pouring to make that person stop.

The last time I had a pusher-upper, I pushed back down with the bottle. You should have seen her face. It was classic. She was shocked, and I was delighted. For once, the shock was on someone else’s face, and a smile of delight was on mine. (It was fun being naughty.)

Puller-outers, next. What in the world are you thinking? There’s no “Psychic Pouring 101.” Again, a simple, “Thanks” will stop the person pouring wine. By pulling your glass away, you’re throwing the pourer into pandemonium.

I constantly remember a colleague, Phil, when we were pouring in San Diego together. I had just had a pusher-upper, and was miffed… for the umpteenth time. I told Phil about it, he shared how his pet peeve was puller outers. I told him that the next time I had a pusher-upper, I was going to push back, and you know I wasn’t just blowing smoke.

Then, my friend R.B. came into the room. I flew across the room to greet her, only to look back and see red wine all over our white table cloth. I looked at Phil in shock. He looked back, gave me a great big wink, and life went on. The person who had caused Phil to act on impulse exclaimed (by the way), “That’s the second time that’s happened tonight,” to which his wife shot back, “Get a clue.”

Not everyone’s this idyoscychratic, but the ones who are give me great life experiences, because the pen’s always mightier than the sword.

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