Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Guzzlers Ruin A Good Thing

Seems like there's been a bunch of stories lately about bad behavior becoming rampant at local wineries. This week, The New York Times weighed in with a story about the problem at both Long Island and Finger Lakes wineries. Recently, the Wall Street Journal found it necessary to publish a story counseling tasters as to appropriate winetasting etiquette.

To be sure, some of the winetasting behavior reported goes well beyond rude into the realm of disgusting. One of the things I've enjoyed most about visiting wineries over the years is that you meet the nicest, most interesting people while learning about wine. But the epidemic of bad behavior is ruining the experience in multiple ways.

For one thing, wineries that charged little to nothing for the pleasure of tasting wines are now charging much more. Who can blame them? Free tastings have become a magnet to those who simply want to get drunk. Secondly, those who really want to talk and learn can't get the attention of pourers who have to watch the problem clients closely.

So, I understand the need to implement safeguards. But there's one so-called remedy hinted at that I hope wineries don't resort to -- that's the plastic, measured pourers that attach to the top of the bottle. Some wineries use them already, and I absolutely despise these devices. Wherever I've encountered them they seem to dole out only the tiniest thimble-full of wine, leaving the taster frustrated and desperate for a real sense of the wine's bouquet and taste.

I've done a lot of winetasting in my day, and I can tell you that I've never come close to feeling even slightly tipsy at a winery. Getting a decent pour is not about getting big, feel-good gulps. It's just a matter of getting enough wine to swirl in the glass and swish across your palate. I have had pours from these plastic devices that provided less than a spit, with virtually no detectible aroma in the glass.

So, winery owners, please, please don't subject your respectful, paying customers to this indignity. Charge more if you have to, throw out anyone you don't like the looks of, but please don't ruin the winetasting experience for those of us who love wines as much you do.


Blogger Lenn said...

I really hope that people don't look at that NYT piece and get that picture of Long Island wine country.

That story was clearly written to get attention and be alarmist moreso than bring the reality of the situation to light.

The wineries mentioned are lesser-quality producers (for the most part) that encourage large groups and a party atmosphere. There are many many more wineries who don't tolerate large groups (without an appointment) and would turn people away if they showed up drunk and rowdy.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Good little essay. You make some nice points within this current debate.

1:58 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Marcus, thanks. Glad to see the Doktor is back.

Lenn, I can verify the presence of a big, boisterous bunch at one small winery -- I got elbowed right to the very edge of the tasting bar. But by and large you're right, they are at the larger, more commercial places.

I doubt that many will view this situation as a New York phenomenon, I certainly don't. New York just has more than its share of aggressive media!

5:50 PM  

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