Wine and Self Assurance
In perusing the cache of on-line wine media today I cam across an interesting poll being taken at "The Life of Vines" blog. The poll, which centered on what it is that makes ordering wine in a restaurant so intimidating for so many began with this introduction:
"Do you ever get that deer in the headlights feeling when you’re handed the wine list in a restaurant? You don’t get that feeling when ordering your meal or a glass of beer. What is it about wine that makes it so intimidating?"
There is no question that many folks DO feel intimidated ordering wine in a restaurant, particularly when in the midst of others they believe are wine educated and even when on their own. So, I think in this I and the writers of this poll are in agreement.
The optional answers that were given to the question of what makes ordering wine intimidating were as follows:
-I don't know enough about wine
-I'm afraid I’m overpaying
-I don’t recognize any of the names on the wine list
-The sommelier/waiter not helpful or is snobby
-I don’t know how to taste, what to do with the cork, etc
Am I wrong or are all these potential reasons for being intimidate over ordering wine in a restaurant just another way of saying, "I'm afraid to look stupid"?
And isnt' being afraid of looking stupid just another way of saying, "I lack self assurance."
Here's where I start to look pompous: I've never been afraid of being corrected, asking questions, displaying my ignorance or seeking advise. So, I've never been intimidated by ordering anything, let alone wine—even before I had a decent background in wine knowledge.
I will grant that there are occasions when the person taking the wine order appears condescending in response to your ignorance about wine and even your choice. There is ugly story in the comments section of the above blog post in which a stop at Robert Mondavi's tasting room occasioned the commenter to explain to their host that their favorite wine was White Zinfandel. The commenter explains they "thought the server was going to have a stroke! Rather than educating me about other wines, they just wrote me off."
This happens. But isn't the proper reponse to that kind of treatment a sesounding "F*ck You", a turn, and a walk out?
The key, it seems to me, to overcome one's intimidation over ordering wine in a restaurant is not to wait for the server corp to in restaurants to display better table-side manners, but to gather up some self assurance, not worry about feeling stupid, being willing to patronize places that won't display condescension and gird yourself with some self assurance.