Event,Food & Wine,Wine

Road Warrior Survival Guide ~ Revisited

If you’ve read this one before, you know there’s room for additions.

This was first published in Wine Business Monthly. It’s one of my rare rants, and was born from being on the road a bit too much (I think) at the time. While my schedule has slowed down, the following behaviors haven’t… Enjoy!

We all know that it’s not polite to stereotype; but my lord; some people make it so darn easy. They’re there, at every wine festival, you can count on them. They look different than the last festival; they may part their hair on the left instead of the right, they may be bald instead of having a full head of hair. But, they return completely metamorphosed – doing exactly what they did in the last town. And, we all know them.

Pusher-uppers & puller-outers – These are my two personal favorites. Both of them make the decision that you’ve poured enough wine, but instead of telling you in words, they tell you in actions. The pusher uppers are those people who, once they’ve made their split-second decision, will forcefully push up on their glasses, causing you to jump out of your skin. No matter how many times I’ve experienced them, I’m never ready for the pusher-uppers. I pushed back once, just to see the expression on her face… it was classic. She looked confused. “Welcome to my world,” I mused.

Another time, when I had just experienced a pusher-upper, I turned to a colleague who was pouring with me. We had a minute of down time. I said, “You know, I can’t stand pusher-uppers.” He looked at me quizzically… I said, “You know, those people who decide that you’ve poured enough wine for them and they just push their glass up at you.” He said, “Well, I think that it’s kinda nice. They’ve decided that they’ve had enough.” I returned, “Phil, why can’t they just say, ‘thank you.'” Phil thought for a second and said, “You know, you’re right. What would it take to be a little polite?” I said, “My point exactly.”

Then Phil said to me, “You know, I can’t stand the ones who pull their glass away while you’re still pouring!” I said, “Oh, you mean the Puller-Outers.” He said, “Yeah, what are they thinking? You’re pouring, and the next thing you know, they start to take their glass away while you’re still pouring wine. It makes me follow their hand so I don’t spill all over the place.”

I said, “You know, the next time I have a pusher-upper, I going to push right back. I’ve had it.” Just at that moment, my friend R.B. arrived. I was so excited.

She offered her beach home to me as overnight accommodations, and I just couldn’t wait to hug her, so I said to Phil, “I’ll be right back. I have to go to say ‘Hi’ to R.B.” I left the table and looked over my shoulder just in time to see red wine splashed all over the white tablecloth. I looked at Phil, and he gave me this mischievous wink. Later he told me that the very next guy turned out to be a puller-outer. At first Phil started to follow him with the bottle. Then he thought, “What the heck…” and let ‘er rip. Horrified, the husband exclaimed, “That’s the second time that’s happened to me tonight!” His wife retorted, “Get a clue!”

Takes It All Too Seriously – There is one man I’ll never forget… he made my day when he called me “Young Lady.” It’s been so long since I’ve been called “Young Lady;” usually it’s “Ma’am.” I had just poured a Chardonnay that he asked for, and I went into the adjectives; you know, apple, citrus, butter. He stopped me dead in my tracks, “Young lady,” (I was thinking, how sweet!), and he continued, “Do not presume to tell me what I’m going to find on my palate.” Yawn!

Yin-Yang – “I’ll Have Something Red” has a twin… “I’ll Have Something White.” Have you ever been tempted to just pick up two bottles (say a Cabernet and a Merlot) and simultaneously pour each in his/her glass? It could be followed with, “There you go, my own concoction. I’m thinking of going into wine making. Whaddaya think?”

Cleanliness is NOT next to Godliness – These folks have to rinse after each and every pour of wine. Okay, I’d much rather dilute my wine with wine. After three hours of tasting, do these guys really believe that they’re tasting anything purely anymore?

Blotters – Who told them that they could rinse out their glasses and turn them upside down on my tablecloth? Oh, those dirty rings!

Bell Ringers – These guys must love to ring the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas, because they spend the rest of the year rinsing their glasses; then, shaking them all over the event like they’re ringing the bell for the poor kids who might not have a Christmas without their monumental efforts. My friend Dan likes to call them Flicker Dorks, but Bell Ringers works, too.

The Whole World’s a Phone Booth – They think they’re alone. The tent has 1,000 people in it, but they’re so lonely that they have to call friends to tell them how much they’re missed; meanwhile, they’re missing the tasting. And, with the constant drone of the murmuring crowd, how much can anyone really hear… and who cares!

Dish Washers – Where do these guys get off thinking that my ice tub is their kitchen sink? Each and every person adds more spit than the last. And when you tell them that they’re about the tenth person to wash their glass, they just shrug. Yeooooow!

Garbage People – Where do these guys get off thinking that my spit bucket is their trashcan? I pity the guys whose job it is to empty the spit wine into a sink. Before they do, they have to remove toothpicks, napkins, paper plates, left over food, etc.

Chuckle with the Chain – (note the yellow circle, denoting the hanging glass) Not enough hands or just too clutsy? I can’t decide, but it’s always a giggle to see how some people compulsively put their glass into a glass holder that’s worn like a necklace, and has the potential – with one simple bump – to segue into the next phase… wine-on-shirt badge. (This one proves that we’re all really funny, honestly.)

“Don’t Over Do It!” – My return for this jibe is, “You either!” The same guy who can’t get enough wine from a pour invariably spills red wine all over his shirt before the event ends. (Dribble, dribble little louse, I saw you dribble on your new silk blouse!)

“Ms. Perfume” – Please, please, please don’t bathe in it… It’s so hard to taste anything right, when any perfume at all at a wine tasting is so wrong.

“You Can Do Better Than That” – Usually evokes, “Oh, I didn’t realize that we’ve slipped from the tasting portion to the drinking portion of the program!”

“Ya Look Like The Concierge” – “Do you know where XYZ Winery is?” I usually say, “Yeah, in the Sierra Foothills.”

“Parker” (inspired by a conversation with Jose and Amy Biege) – These are people who come to a table to get their taste of wine, put their food plate down on your pristine table cloth (that you’ve brought back from Italy), and proceed to have a conversation with their friends. There should be a rule, “Get your wine, get your information, then step away from the table,” to let others – who’ve also paid to attend the event – get to the wine and the people pouring. People who are pouring wine are there to promote their products. When you monopolize their tables, they get pretty antsy, even though they’re smiling at you.

“Traders/Traitors” (inspired by Robert Larsen of Rodney Strong, which I too, know all too well)These guys have figured out how to play the game… They’re people who go to a table with an glass empty, and asks, “Can you just fill it up. I just love your wine. It’s the best one here.” Moments later, you see them at a table across the way, getting a full pour, again. Hum… How did they manage that one over there, too?

“Tipsies” – These guys can’t hold their glasses upright, handing you a glass that’s tipped in your direction. They’ve obviously never poured wine for others, because with a glass so tipped, it’s next to impossible to know how to pour it carefully. Have you ever tried that one? You’re not any cooler, because you tip your glass…

“Wine Swill” ~ “No, don’t look in the dump bucket!” about the last hour of any event. You’ll see all those floating tooth picks that are headed down the drain, somewhere. (Inspired by Randy Arnold of Barefoot Cellars.)

“Magician’s Apprentice” ~ “So, what do you have under the table?” – If I wanted you to know, I would have already pulled it out. Smile… (Eric S. Crane helped with this one.)

(Cristin offered this one, the last time that I published this story.) You forgot the “’POP’ drinkers.” The one’s who only want the late harvest/ice wine. They wince and the whine at everything under seven percent RS. – Someone must have dragged them to the tasting, in my humble opinion.

The Last Half Hour All Hell Breaks Lose,
And it Had Better Be Tied Down or You Can Kiss it Goodbye…

It’s-almost-the-end-of-the-event, here – let me drop off my garbage on your linen. Well, I would, but I really need to keep a tidy presence right up to the end.


  • You’ve turned your back, here – let me pour for myself. Well, I would, except this isn’t my living room, and you’re not my new best friend.
  • You’ve turned your back, here – let me steal your table decorations. Well, I would, except I’ll just have to buy them again for the next event, and my boss won’t understand my constant spending on plastic grapes.
  • You’ve got a big bottle on your table, here – let me walk out with it. Well, I would but I promised it to a restaurateur who’s sold a lot of my wine and earned it.

It all gets packed up, what’s left of it, for the next city, and then it all starts again. Thank God the nice folks are handily sprinkled in-between the stereotypes.

And honestly, this just really proves how funny we all are, once it’s all said and done.

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22 Responses to “Road Warrior Survival Guide ~ Revisited”

  1. Hilarious, Jo. I don’t know how many if any of these things I’ve been guilty of, but I know in the future I’ll be wary of causing Pourus Interruptus.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Pourus Interruptus… That is so funny. LOL

    I’m going to have to work that one in for next year, when I post this again, giving you credit.

    This is one story that’s timeless… Pourus interruptus, indeed.

  3. Roger says:

    Love it Jo,

    So very funny, yet so very true. Especially Traders/Traitors, I learned first hand while pouring for my friends winery. The darn dirty pot lickers…

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks, Roger,

    Insiders are now my best resource for more behaviors, because I don’t get out much anymore… On the road pouring. It’s probably a good thing. I was close to throttling someone, which is why this story was written in the first place… I’m of the “don’t get mad, get even” ilk.

  5. Rich says:

    Great post – and I’ve seen all of the above – though most of the time, I think we (all?) just learn to deal with the trials and travails – if you pour enough, you learn to anticipate (most of the time!). But one you left out – the “repeat offenders” who show up at almost every event only to drink as much as possible and get completely – happy – but once in the throes of their, uh, shall we say, “drinking pleasure” they decide to engage you on the make up of your wine – i.e., barrels, ageing, etc. with pithy questions like “sho? izh thish a Cabernet? I bee-heet you aged it in oh, oh, oaaak? diln’t you?”

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    Repeat Offenders, aka “The Cheap Dates.” Yeah… all you can drink buffet for the price of a ticket. And, since they’ve paid money to enjoy the wine, they must drink that much wine… So, a $75 ticket means three bottles in the first hour. I DID forget this one, Rick. How could I have forgotten?

  7. Tom Cover says:

    I have been in the local wine distributing business in MD for almost 30 years. How about:
    “Gimme what I had last time”
    “I only drink dry wines” then “this is sour!!!”
    “Do you have any zinfandel? “This isn’t pink??”
    “Do you have any red chardonnay?”

  8. Rich says:


    Well, it’s surprising how much some people think they can drink for a $20 ticket! Interestingly, at one event, an obviously inebriated individual approached my table and I told him I couldn’t serve him because it appeared he had enough already – I offered him a bottle of water. He was highly offended and told me something to the effect “Dow hare you – I will nooo longer guh-hi… guh… hi… ve my biz-iin-uss to this ex-shtablishmint… and I’m going to perort you to the biznus, the better, the buu-rooo for biz-ii-nusses…” Sadly, he came back 15 minutes later and didn’t remember his promise not to bring his business back to “my establishment…”


  9. Kristin says:

    That’s awesome Jo and so, so true on all accounts!
    I’ve actually got one to add, from experience as well:
    “Gunkers” – their wineglasses are so dirty and gunked up with greasy fingerprints and sludge, they can’t possibly be tasting the wine just poured.
    I can’t even imagine holding some of these gross glasses, much less drinking out of them. Ewww, I’m cringing as I write this. LOL 😀

    Thanks for your wisdom and humor Jo.

  10. Jo Diaz says:

    Oh my gahd… You’re so right, and I forgot all about the Gunkers. Thanks, Kristin. I think I might have deliberately put these guys and gals out of my conscious mind deliberately. (Double Ewwww)

  11. Jo Diaz says:

    Okay, Tom, you’ve got some good ones here.

    “Gimme what I had last time” ~ “What do I look like, a Psychic Pourer?
    “I only drink dry wines” then “this is sour!!!” ~ Sour puss
    “Do you have any zinfandel? “This isn’t pink??” ~ The Pink Uninitiated
    “Do you have any red chardonnay?” ~ “Confused in Burgundy

  12. Lisa says:

    AYKM’S (Are you kidding me’s?) These are other vendors that have not purchased a booth at the event, that come to the table acting like they are interested in your wines and then monopolize your time with their sales pitch. I know, I know – they could become a customer. But in my experience, they just dump the wine and move on to the next table with their pitch. I politely deal with them, but really?

  13. Jo Diaz says:

    By the next day, he wouldn’t even remember where he was the day before. I’ve always felt, and now I’m a bit more empowered, Rich, that turning down someone who’s had enough won’t ruin my client’s business. The brain cells damage in their process of overindulgence are the ones for short term memory, I’m betting.

  14. Jo Diaz says:

    The AYKM’s… I like that (sorta… I know them, too… I think I’ve been one myself. Oh gahd…)

  15. Doug says:

    Yin-Yang hahahahahahaha LOVE it. Very entertaining stuff thanks.

    — Doug
    Uncorked Remarks

  16. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks, Doug.

  17. Well, it’s really interesting to know that there are people who think they can drink for a $20 ticket! uninterrupted….great stamina!

  18. It interesting N FUNNY ….

  19. Jo Diaz says:

    You’re welcome, Doug. I had a ball writing it, and then updating it is constant entertainment as well.

  20. Kathy says:

    Droppers? As in name, place, competition, Parker, Steve, France and so on.

    On the other side, at trade tastings I can often spot PR women: lipstick. Italians tend to sit and read newspaper held up and facing the front of the booth; wine at the back of the booth.

    Great annual read. Thanks.

  21. Jo Diaz says:


    Droppers… Good one.

    I have more people tell me that I don’t fit the mold as a PR woman, now I know it’s because I don’t wear lipstick (or scarfs) while I’m working. I never thought of the lipstick as a dead giveaway… Very funny!

    OMG on the Italian men. I once took a lot of vintners on the road, and at each event along the way, we had this one Italian vintner who I was shocked and in disbelief to see reading a book, with his back turned to everyone, while people stood there wondering if he was going to turn around. I’m sure there are other Italians who will tell both of us that we can’t just stereotype this one, but why on earth did you say Italian, and why on earth did I witness it, too? Too fabulous…

  22. […] that’s never really been associate with wine that I had seen, since my own publishing of Road Warrior Survival Guide. And, never in a million years did I really expected that to be published. My great friend Cyril […]

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