You’ll Taste Raspberry and Vanilla with Just a Hint of Arrogance

pouring wineIs it weird or helpful when servers and sommeliers tell you what a wine tastes like?

Norm Roby thinks it’s creepy:

I also found it kind of creepy when visiting a tasting room (salon or lounge) that the server or sommelier wants to tell guests what the wine tastes like before they taste it.  And with details and layers…that really seem to take away from the fun of discovering and discussing something you like or dislike.  They will add the point scores from experts, always in the 90s, whenever possible.  When winery tasting room experiences are like this, they do more harm than good.  Talking down to people is never a good idea.

I’m of two minds about this. I get impatient with it because I’m quite capable of tasting the wine myself and know in advance what to expect. But many years ago when I was a novice taster, I welcomed that kind of information. If the comments were accurate and not just marketing verbiage, it gave me some insight into what I was tasting, which I wasn’t yet capable of picking up on my own. I don’t see why that kind of information prevents discussion or inhibits a judgment about whether you like the wine or not. It gives you something to talk about enables you to assess how well you’re understanding the wine.

Of course, if it’s done with an arrogant attitude it’s self-defeating. And experienced servers should be able to quickly assess how much information a particular customer needs in order to appreciate a wine.

So I think a blanket condemnation of the practice is not warranted. In the end, the platitude “know your customer” is crucial.

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