You are at a party and the hosts hands you a wine glass. How should you hold it?
It’s a simple question, yet the answers are writhe with controversy.
In the distant past, I held my wine glass gently cradling the bowl. It was a practical choice. My palm’s full contact with the widest part of the glass that also shouldered the bulk of the weight of a full glass gave me a sense of security as I walk around a crowded room.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I received a comment on a Stark Insider wine video episode shot at Bent Creek Winery in Livermore that I revisited the manner in which I held a wine glass. The commenter had politely pointed out my technique was simply wrong. A true connoisseur of fine wine would know that one should hold a glass delicately by the stem so that the warmth from one’s hand did not change the ideal drinking temperature of the wine.
There seems to be general consensus on this method of holding a wine glass.
Case closed. Or is it?
Recently, while flipping through an issue of Bloomberg Businessweek there was an article profiling etiquette in business and the lack of it in employees of the web 2.0 and millennial generation entitled, “Etiquette School for Dummies” (pg 89, October 18, 2010). In a table there is a summary of some tips on etiquette. One of the tips is on how to hold a wine glass. The author, Teddy Wayne, recommends holding the glass by the bowl: “When drinking wine, hold the glass by the bowl, not the stem, to reduce the possibility of spillage.”
Now if it was in a less reputable rag I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. However, I was surprised this method was suggested by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. The rationale given was that holding a glass in such a manner reduces the chances of an accident causing red wine to spill on your host’s carpet. A reasonable consideration.
Do we have a clash between business and wine etiquette? Does one sacrifice the wine or the carpet?
I think the occasion should dictate.
In a crowded party, walking across fine ivory wool carpets a firm grip on the bowl of your wine glass is advisable. At a vertical tasting of some of Napa’s finest red wines, a delicate pinch of the stem may signal a nod of respect to the wine being served.
For whites and champagne, holding by the stem wins everytime.