Get your head out of your glass 

Wine tasting etiquette for the rich, the poor, the effete and the boor

I'll admit Emily Post rhetoric is not my style. But sometimes I cringe when poser wine tasters commit truly offensive faux pas at large tastings. Yeah, yeah, I know this is supposed to be the new era of "live and let live" and "wine for the people" but it's kinda gross to see people spit and miss the bucket. Or worse, splatter my shoe. Ewww.

In the past weeks, I've hit quite a few wine tastings, ranging from the low-key Buckhead Wine Festival to the hoity-toity Aspen Food & Wine Festival. They both offered great people watching -- and provided a fine column idea. I learned that no matter how much money you have, you can still piss off everyone around you with etiquette ignorance. Here are some of the most frequent offenses:

IN DEEP SPIT: Ever the sign of wine geekdom, spitting wine is helpful for many reasons: It avoids embarrassing inebriation and allows you to taste more wines without falling over. Believe me, it doesn't offend the pourer, and spitting lets you reserve your mouth for many more wines. But for everyone's sake, spit in a smaller glass or cup and not directly into the bucket. If a small vessel isn't available, pick up the bucket and discreetly expectorate into it. This way, aim becomes less important. Please keep in mind that aim worsens as you drink. Also, try perfecting the art of spitting at home before you try it in public.

KEEP IT FLOWING: When you approach a crowded table with several wines to taste, get your wine and get the hell out of the way. There is nothing more irritating to the other tasters -- or the wine pourer for that matter -- than a camper who wants to wax philosophical and try to impress everyone around him. We don't care what esoteric wine knowledge you possess. Move your loud mouth off the table and let people through to the juice. If you'd like to talk with the wine professional, come back later when the crowd isn't as thick.

STAY BEYOND THE PAIL: Don't block the dump bucket. The best way to get red wine down your pants is to camp out in front of the dump bucket (also see tip No. 2).

GO EASY ON THE PERFUME: Don't wear gallons of cologne or perfume. Try sniffing a delicate Sauvignon Blanc with a chick next you drowning in Eau de Whatever. Somehow, the olfactory glands will translate that sweet smell to the taste of the wine. If you must wear a scent, spray on some Chardonnay before you leave the house.

THINK DARK: Don't wear light-colored clothes. You'll regret it and get really get miffed when someone accidentally spills dark red Cabernet on your pressed white pants. Red wine is really hard to get out of clothes (but try Wine Away).

Recommended Wines

Hardy's 1999 Tintara Cabernet ($18) : Fruit forward for a Cab, and easy to drink. It's got some tannin, but has earthy dark cherry flavors and yummy caramel.

Callaway 2000 Coastal Sauvignon Blanc ($10) : Citrus-y like a Sprite without the fizz and sugar. Clean-drinking, light and refreshing. Perfect for summer.

Curtis 2000 Heritage Rose ($10) : A blend of several Rhone grapes, this elegant rose is rich-flavored, big in the mouth and de-licious. An amazing value.

Taylor Eason is a regionally based wino who studied the juice in France and Italy. Comments? E-mail corkscrew@



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