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Wine Etiquette

Some You Remember More Than Others; My Dear Old Man

My days at Belvedere Winery were awesome. I had just moved from Maine, and this was my first wine job. I wanted in because I had become inspired by Martha-the-Tour-Guide at Monterey Vineyards. After visiting that winery (which is now Blackstone), I wanted her job if I was going to be living in California. I was determined to leave radio and the glamor of rockers in the dust.

I learned from my tasting room colleagues how to greet visitors, what flavors would be found in the wine – I was still learning that myself, so I became a good parrot – and was friendly enough to sell quite a bit of wine.

There’s one person who just sticks in my brain…

I was alone in the tasting room that day. It was the middle of the week, and by now I had progressed to full-time, and shortly headed to the marketing department for my next step on the ladder. But for now, I was the Monday-Through-“Gal-Friday” for Lavonne Holmes, my tasting room manager.

In walked a gentleman, and I use the word “gentleman” loosely.

He came right to the counter. I smiled, handed him the wine menu, and gave him the, “Welcome to Belvedere! This is our wine menu. You’re welcome to try any four of our wines on our list. They’ve all just been opened, so let me know where you’d like to start!”

He looked at the list, and you need to know that he had a little note pad, looked over his glasses, and with absolutely no expression said, “The Sonoma County Chardonnay.”

I took the bottle and began to pour. As I did this, I went into the routine of telling him what winemaker Kevin Warren (now at Robert Young) had given us for adjectives about the wine. It’s just the way of a tasting room. Most people who come to wine country are coming for the first time or second time. It’s an occasional thing. Living in “whatever city” USA doesn’t afford routine visits to California to taste wine on a regular basis. When people visit a tasting rooms, it’s mostly Winery Visit 101, said she after five years of being on that learning curve in varying degrees of assignments.

So, off I went with the adjectives.

I didn’t even get to finish the first sentence, when my visitor said to me, “Young lady,”

I thought, “Wow, this is great…. It’s been ages since I’ve been referred to as a young lady.” I listened intently to my new best friend, hanging on his every word…

He went on, after taking that pause that refreshed…

“Don’t presume to tell me what I’m going to find on my palate.”

Remember, he was ready to take notes, so I either had a writer before me, or a writer wanna be. Either way, I was now putting him into a special category that was held for mules… and future musings…

This guy falls into my category of, “Takes Himself too Seriously.”

Of course, this isn’t the guy. I have to thank I-Stock Photography for this one, but this emotion says it all.

Although wine tasting for writers is serious business, and sneaking around tasting rooms to taste wines has its benefits, it would have behooved this Mr. Writer to just let the winery know he was coming. We would have given him a private spot, if that was his pleasure, so he could have been alone with his thoughts and not have to put up with someone prepared to be friendly.

Most writers get free samples on a regular basis, however… I know, so they don’t take the time to visit tasting rooms. I now create those lists; and as I now reflect, I’m thinking he’s not on any of my lists. The people I send samples to are all great people. I have conversations with them, and haven’t heard his voice since that fateful day.

Calling ahead allows for a quiet space, if that’s a writer’s pleasure. That way no one becomes a horse’s necktie. It’s just good human relations.

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