The gulags are filled with people who didn’t know how to hold a wine glass, bobeshi.
Stateside, of course, we are a bit more lenient with such breeches of etiquette, but still, you may be as shocked as I was to learn that in polls leading up to the 2012 Presidential elections, the top five issues that most inflamed Americans were:
- Ignoring allies while pursuing our strategy of killing civilians in the Middle East.
- Waning primacy for angry, underemployed white men.
- The intransigent frame surrounding public education policies on the state and federal level.
- Policemen who won’t accept football tickets to make speeding tickets go away.
- Stemware issues.
That’s right: Stemware issues. And in subsequent tracking polls, a representative sample of the American population claimed that their number one stemware peeve is ‘an improperly held wine glass.’
Now, for an anemic jackhole such as I, whose sole value to the universe is dispensing handy drinking tips to alcoholics whose chug of choice is wine (so long as I can catch them between their first sip of white zinfandel and their final swig of Scorpio), you would think that I’d seize upon this opportunity to educate that annoying slice of society who insist upon pawing and clutching and fondling their flute or their tulip or their lead crystal flared-bowl balloon whatever-it’s-called, bringing upon themselves the same sort of career-annihilating ignominy that befell our beloved Mitt Romney during the third debate when he slipped and accidentally called Mr. Obama ‘boy’.
You’d think I would, but you’d think wrong.
We Need To Talk…
That’s because—and there is no easy way to say this—despite my wine pedigree which includes over twenty consecutive minutes spent inside Mapleview Party Store five or six times a week, I don’t have the slightest idea of how to hold a wine glass!
I know, right?
But the reason is simple. In part it’s because at the close of the day I really don’t know what I’m talking about, but even more than that, I haven’t used stemware since 2004—and then only because I had run out of 16 oz. Dixie cups and I had so severely chipped the wine bottle that had I drunk directly from it, I would have awoken the following morning looking like Stacy Keach before hairlip surgery.
Seriously, even when I attended the March 14, 2012 state dinner that President Romney Obama (sorry, I keep doing that) held for bundlers, Supreme Court Justices, Downton Abbey stars and D-list wine writers, I refused to use the Riedel Vinum glasses provided, and instead pulled a Mason jelly jar from my rented tux—startling the secret service, who nearly shot me.
When the looks of horror and judgmental snickers had subsided, I rose with my customary grandiloquence and made the following speech:
“Ladies and gentlemen, my father fought proudly for the 10th Regiment of the 5th Infantry Division—the Red Devils—of General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army during the Second World War, and if you think for a cocaine heartbeat I intend to sit here in the headquarters of the Commander in Chief of the United States military and drink out of goddamn Nazi stemware… Well, sir, better I should become a syphilitic transsexual hooker offering handjobs on the corner of Cass and Sibley.”
Before the shocked silence faded, I was able to slip in: “Mason jars are made in Philadelphia. We won that one, too.”
Unfortunately, the explosion of patriotic applause was interrupted by the supercilious, thumb-up-his-kiester ‘official’ state dinner sommelier who rained on my parade by loudly letting everybody know that Riedel is actually made in Austria, not Germany.
But, as my ability to think on my feet grows exponentially with the number of pre-dinner cocktails I consume, my quick response was to remind everyone where Adolf Hitler was ‘made’.
It brought down the house and sealed the deal: Mason Jars are now the official stemlessware of White House state dinners.
That’s all well and good, but it hardly addresses the issue at hand:
‘How to hold a wine glass’. For that it will be…
Corkcicle To the Rescue!
If I may digress briefly once again—and I may, since it’s my column—let me say a word about ‘marketing’, that satanic communication tool which is defined as ‘the overall strategy and function of promoting a product or service to the customer’ which may be refined to ‘selling shit to people they don’t need, don’t want and can’t afford’.
Having spent several repulsively corrupt years in that very profession, I know whereof I speak.
Anyway, Corkcicle is this bizarre product which is essentially a plastic pouch of freezable gel attached to a cork that you are supposed to stick in a room temperature bottle of wine in order to chill it ‘from the inside out’.
I have two words to say about that: Ickity ick.
But, for $25, it is probably ideal for people without access to an ice bucket or a refrigerator—although, hang on—if you don’t freeze the Corkcicle first, it’s worthless, so what point am I missing?
Which is precisely why Corkcicle won the coveted (by slimebuckets) ‘Stevie Award’ as Best New Company of the Year at the 10th Annual American Business Awards earlier this year. Of course, they are not the best company of this, or any year, but they may well be the chutzpahiest, which is really what this silly award is all about. I mean, consider the company statement in the June 19 edition of The Upstart Business Journal in which Corkcicle offers the following as their raison d’être:
‘Ice buckets tend to make white wine too cold, which ruins the taste.’
What is the proper reaction to such a comment? Seriously. To allow your jaw to drop knowingly as you reach for your VISA card? Or to respond, “Well, why not just take the goddamn bottle out of the goddamn bucket before it gets too goddamn cold?”
Corkcicle is counting on the fact that you, the intended victim customer, are too blind to know the correct answer, which makes me think that the Stevie award might be named for Mr. Wonder.
We Come Full Corkcircle…
So, what this whole thing has been about is a recent new marketing (that word again) campaign by Corkcicle, who has probably already sold all the product they can by conventional means. There may be a sucker born every minute, but you have to wait 21 years until they’re old enough to drink.
You can peruse the attached advertising poster—purporting to instruct you how to hold a wine glass—to your heart’s content if it so floats your boat. But I can summarize it for you if that’s easier: You hold a wine glass exactly like you think you’d hold a wine glass.
I will leave you with but a single thought, but then, my smarm level will have fallen below critical mass and I must go fortify myself with the bottle of Grey Goose I keep in the spot in the freezer where my Corkcicle could be, but won’t be.
Michael Greenlee—a self-described ‘wine professional’ is quoted at the top of the poster as saying, “The most common mistake I see at dinner parties is people holding a wine glass by the bowl.”
Really, Michael. The most common? Hell, I was a sommelier for ten years and half the time, I served the wine while holding the glass by the bowl.
Anyway, I wonder if there was a bidding war between Corkcicle and Riedel for Michael’s obviously concocted, bought-and-paid-for statement, because he knows perfectly well that one of the best selling shapes for wine glasses in 2012 is the… wait for it…
* I will, however, offer Corkcicle, free of charge, a tagline for their next advertising campaign:
‘What do you give to a guy who has everything… Except a friggin brain?’
So you think that people are mindlessly shelling out good money for the corkcicle (and I agree) but you don’t think they are mindlessly shelling out money for stemless glassware (only invented by Riedel) and marketed (by your definition) by them? I’ll continue to hold my wine glass by the stem and my beer mug by the handle, thanks.
Downton Abbey’s elites hold their wine glasses by the bowl,