September 2008

Get a Grip

By: Anthony Dias Blue
Okay, you’re going to think I’ve lost it. I am about to write an Editor’s letter that is the most trivial, most nit-picky, most bone-headed of my checkered career. In a world filled with violence, economic melt-down, pestilence and assorted other tragedies, I am taking on the scourge of bad table manners, as evidenced by how many people don’t know how to hold a wine glass properly.

You’re right, this is not earth-shaking, or even earth-wiggling. But it still bugs me, especially when brochures and websites from people who are actually in the industry, perpetuate the image of the seemingly sophisticated wine-drinker with his or her grubby hands wrapped around the bowl of the glass.

I was willing to write off this discomfort I felt to a bad burrito or something, but then I went to the movies. I saw the terrific new Woody Allen movie and in it, there was a dinner table scene in which three of the main characters toasted each other. Two of the characters grabbed their wine glasses around the bowl, the other one held her glass properly, by the stem. Was Mr. Allen making a subtle statement about his characters, or was his directorial charge, simply: “Pick up your glasses.” I need clarification.

I am amazed that now, in the Golden Age of Wine, how many people still don’t know how to hold a wine glass. From pictures in the media and from firsthand experience, I am shocked. Stemware was designed so that people would hold the glass by its stem! And no, I’m not just being a picky wine snob. I’ve been noticing at dinner parties and events that lots of people think it’s okay to hold a glass by the bowl, but folks, there’s a reason not to do that. First of all, you get fingerprints all over the glass, which ruins the appearance, the presentation and part of the experience of enjoying a glass of wine. Second, if you are drinking a glass of chilled wine or champagne, the heat from your fingers will rapidly warm up the liquid. Third, it looks tacky.

People should hold a wine glass by the stem, that’s what the stem is for. Pass it on.

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