- Pinot Gris by Iris Vineyards tops McMinnville Wine Classic judging
- Maryhill Winery climbs atop Platinum Awards all-time leaderboard
- Sniff, Sip, Swirl: Let’s Talk About Northwest Wines grows its following
- The Wine Knows: A new start for Great Northwest Wine
- Tasting Room Perspective: A wine club you don’t want to join
- A Vine Start: 23 years later, here’s another Volume 1, Issue No. 1
- Napa winemaker produces Platinum’s top wine at Chris Daniel Winery
- Pinot Noir catches on in Oregon as white wine
- Red Mountain-focused Liberty Lake Wine Cellars bats 7-for-7 at Platinum Awards
- None in the top 10, but nine from Northwest get inside Wine Spectator’s top 60
Tasting Room Perspective: A wine club you don’t want to join
Let’s hope you haven’t joined this club, but there’s a chance you’ve been wine tasting and spotted a member of “The Dime a Dozen Club.”
This club is composed of violators of tasting room etiquette who say and do cringe-worthy things they believe are clever or powerful without realizing they are among the many who have said and/or done the same thing during that week, that day or that hour.
It’s time to explore The Dime a Dozen Club. Let’s start with, “Do you know who I am?” Ah, the question that communicates your elevated sense of importance and says to your tasting room attendant that your ego is going to be the main visitor during the appointment.
If you must ask that question, then the fault is yours. You had a chance to announce yourself by making an appointment or you could have presented a business card at the beginning of your appointment or simply introduced yourself pleasantly and explained who you are (and why you are so important). If you are sure you are an incredibly important person, your best bet at having a positive experience is to give everyone a polite heads-up as early as possible, rather than calling out the winery employee for not knowing who you are.
Another eye roll-inducing statement that makes you the newest member of The Dime a Dozen Club is, “I’m very good friends with the winemaker.” I promise you, the next thought of that member of the winery team you’re talking with will be, “Then call or text them to tell them you are here,” while they brace themselves against your expectations of special treatment based upon your “close association.”
This is such an awkward topic for the attendant — passive-aggressively communicating that you are deserving of extra attention that is not their responsibility to deliver, and yet they know they’re being set up to take the blame if they fail to meet your expectations.
Let’s be clear: If you once golfed on the team of the winemaker at a fundraiser or sat next to them once during a winemaker dinner, then you aren’t friends. Rather, you have a fond memory of spending time with a high-profile person who you wish you were friends with, and it comes off needy and sad that you are making inflated claims.
Are you hoping the attendant will magically produce the winemaker for you to visit with? Consider how busy the tasting room is or how busy the winemaker is and how unreasonable it is for you to feel entitled to a slice of their day.
Also, please know that you might be the 10th person that week to make such a claim, and while you are hoping this elevates your status, you have joined The Dime a Dozen Club.
Still with me? Is it hot in here? We have one more classic question to cover. Please tell me you’ve never asked, “Isn’t (the manager) here today?”
Sigh. What you have just communicated by asking about the absent manager is that you are disappointed in your current server. And just like that, your chance for a special pour or two has evaporated.
Remember, managers need their days off like, well, like you do, and would truly like to know they were missed. An email can communicate your regret at visiting on their weekend, and it might lead to a more detailed conversation than you would have had in person in the busy tasting room.
You can bet the attendant most likely will not pass along your disappointment because with this behavior, you have also joined The Dime a Dozen Club. Many people ask this question, and they may not truly realize how insulting it is for the server.
Please consider making an effort to get to know the server as a person instead of treating them as a substitute for the manager you were hoping to see. If you are fond of the tasting room manager, and if they hired the person pouring wine for you, you will probably like that person also. Give them a try! Chances are they are worthy of your time.
People work in tasting rooms for many reasons. One of them is a love of wine. You already have something in common, and you would have been off to a great start had you not pointed out your preference to speak with their absent boss instead of them. So give the person who is pouring your samples a chance to connect. Often, you will be amazed at what a terrific experience it turns out to be.
Now, if you have joined The Dime a Dozen Club, don’t despair. This is the easiest wine club you’ll ever quit.
Step 1: Stop saying those things. Viola! Fixed.
Step 2: If you find yourself in the company of people who say those things, interrupt them politely. Use humor or the most direct words you can find. The attendant will notice and might show their gratitude with special pours, extra snacks or a surprise experience.
Step 3: If you witness other tasters in the room who unwittingly join this unfortunate club, say something supportive to the attendant on your way out and leave a generous tip.
Okay, today’s topic was tough to address, but I hope our tasting room environment will be better for it. Next time, we will explore the hot — and disappearing — topic of industry discounts. Make sure you have a glass of wine ready. This could get dicey.