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Has Anyone Ever Told You that You Look Exactly Like... a Drunk? (Dispatch from a Wine Tasting Room)

I'm guessing that most of you out there have probably been to a wine tasting room in a winery before, and went there to sample that winery's wines.

Which means that the same number of you have probably encountered at least one severely drunken patron acting in a totally obnoxious way.

Which also means that the same number of you understand the phrase "suppressed the urge to do bodily harm."

Now, I am fully aware that wine tasting room etiquette is not a novel topic, and has been covered before by several sources, including wineries themselves. Most of these sources talk about how to prepare yourself for a tasting room visit (no perfume, chewing gum, etc.) and how to taste the wine while you're there (swirl, sniff, sip, savor, etc.).

They don't tend to touch on what I'm about to lay down about wine tasting room etiquette, however.

Knowing me, it will come off as a bit of a rant, but it's not meant to be a rant (and it's not directed at you, dear reader - it's directed at the small minority of wine tasting room visitors who just still don't seem to "get it").

And it's a simple plea, really...

If you plan to get totally hammered on wine, and you happen to also be an obnoxious drunk,
please don't go to a winery tasting room.

By providing a tasting room, a winery is primarily trying to teach you about - and to sell you - their wine. They are not providing a place for you to drink yourself stupid, get loud, and ignore the winery staff. There are places where you can do that (within reason) - they're called bars.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't plan to have a great time when visiting a winery tasting room, and I'm not even saying that you should stay sober when you visit a winery tasting room (assuming you have arranged transportation, of course).

I'm just saying that you need to stay sober enough - enough to retain adequate coherence so that you can take advantage of the winery staff's knowledge, ask them questions and engage them in conversation about their wines, and remain civil and reasonably polite to your fellow patrons.

I am saying that if you plan to get smashed and act in any way that you want when you hop on a winery tasting tour or visit a winery tasting room, then you need to stay home instead - because you're not respecting the wine, the winery, or the the winery's patrons.

And I don't think that's asking for too much.

Thus endeth Dude's diatribe.

(images: rockstarsmommy.blogspot.com, pleasanthillwinemerchants.com, woodbridgeliving.com)


Alex said...

So much more easily said than done! I worked one year at Tatachilla during the McLaren Vale Sea & Vines Festival.

I was in my early 20s and the sight of women in their mid 50s wetting themselves was something of a severe reality check.

I think a key to not looking like a complete prat is to go in a small group. The larger the group, the more scope there is for bad behaviour!

Anonymous said...

Too many people treat wine tasting (and wine tasting tours) as a fancy pub crawl.
Those people probably will never "get" wine. Period.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons I don't go to big public wine tastings anymore is because of the drunk factor.

Alex said...

Don't you think you're being a bit harsh, Arthur?

I'm certainly guilty of being lashed in public and/or in a tasting room. You can lashed and not obnoxious.

If I weren't driving and if I'd spent a morning going around wineries and taking serious tasting notes I'd be quite tempted to cut myself some slack towards the end of the day.

Like Steve points out, it's the big events that draw the really bad behaviour - the big wine shows in London can be really messy and full of people who aren't really interested. Often tickets/outings have been organised by social clubs at workplaces, and as long as someone isn't disturbing me (that can be quite a big proviso by 4pm!) I'm not really fussed about his or her motivation for being there.

Amy Atwood said...

Lets face it. It is difficult to find a drunk person charming, unless you are drunk yourself at the time.
The glazed eyes, the endless repetition and the erratic behavior are all reasons to steer clear.

Seems pretty obvious that a winery tasting room is not the venue for getting wasted.

Joe Roberts said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Heaven knows, I'm not saying that people shouldn't go out and have a good time on the wine trail. I've certainly done that and I've certainly done that in a less-than-sober state.

I just think that people shouldn't have a good time at the expense of others who are trying to learn about wine and/or engage in conversation with the winery staff. It's not a religious experience, but it's not a bar, either.

Like Steve, I've also witnessed this behavior at large industry wine tasting events, and it can get ugly sometimes.

I've never been too drunk on the wine trail to be able to do that, or so drunk that I've prevented others from doing that. And I don't feel that it's being unreasonable to ask the same of others.

Vinogirl said...

Has no one ever heard of tasting and spitting?

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