Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dear Virginia Wine Tasting Room Pourers,

This weekend I had an interesting experience during a wine tasting. The tasting room was packed due to the holiday weekend. Fortunately, I am known for my patience and understanding in such matters. A group of only two, it was clear that we would be joining the nice people who had just entered as well. No problem, we like meeting new people. The pourer shuffled us to a nice spot and indicated that he usually doesn’t work in the tasting room but decided to help out since they were so busy. Which begged the question, “What do you do for the winery?” Some sort of marketing/desk job guy. Humm…this could be interesting learning about the wine and the business side of things. Unfortunately, this guy was terrible. First of all, he was trying to work two other large groups at the same time. With this level of multitasking, he provided very little information about the wine beyond what was already on the tasting notes. He left us unattended for longer periods of time since we were chatting amongst ourselves so well. And thank goodness for our new friends, they had been to the winery many times and were avid wine drinkers. They were really fun and interesting folks which made the experience actually quite positive despite how I seem to be complaining about the whole thing.

Then Marketing Guy did what I hate the most...Wine Snobbery. I can live with the lack of attention, I can handle the wait between pours, but I absolutely cannot handle Wine Snobbery. I have seen this happen when someone asks a novice question about wine, and the response is a petentious look of disdain. In these two separate incidents, at two separate wineries, my tasting buddy merely asked a question about the grapes used in the wine. While granted even I knew the answer to these questions, it is only because I have recently made an effort in learning about wine.

Let’s try a math analogy. If you are on the beginning level of arithmetic and working your way up to calculus, you can’t be expected to know much if anything about calculus. And if you decide that you want and need more calculus in your life, then you might begin to study and surround yourself with others who know and love calculus too.

Today, I call out to the Virginia Wine Industry to put a stop to Wine Snobbery. This practice is such a disservice to your industry. If a guest to your tasting room enters on a beginner level, this should be welcomed as an opportunity to educate and spread the word about terrific wine located in Virginia. This is not only about educating others and promoting Virginia Wine, but remember this is also a business. If a beginner has a great experience and happens learns more about YOUR WINE at YOUR WINERY, they might BUY YOUR WINE and they might tell others about YOUR GREAT WINE. To me this concept is not, high level calculus.

In these two separate incidents, I did not buy wine (that day) from these wineries merely on principle. Your wine was great, but there is other interesting Virginia Wine to be bought just a few miles down the road.


  1. Interesting... I experience this sort of behavior much LESS here in Virginia than I've experienced in other places (like Central Coast and NoCal). I've learned we all accomplish more by calling the winery out and attempting to shame them in public (just a thought for future reference).

    Snobbery on the part of a tasting room pourer really brings out the boarding schoolboy in me, and I tend to ask off the wall crazy questions like "how does this strawberry flavor get in the wine, do you guys use the Smuckers strawberry syrup? We use that back home to mix all sorts of food to add some flavoring...'. Yep, I've done that in a tasting room. The looks are awesome and make for great drinking stories.

    Well done.

    Oh, one more thing... one can NOT appoint themselves Ambassador of anything. Ambassadorships are appointed positions... and I was officially appointed Ambassador of Virginia wine quite some time ago. ;)


  2. Dear Donna,

    Why not mention the name of the winery? Or at least send the link to the manager or owner and let them know privately if that is more suitable.