As a lover of wine, it can be hard to know when to tone it down. For those of us for whom wine is a passion, we often take every excuse we can think of to share our knowledge and passion for vino with others. But wine is often shared in social settings — in fact we think that’s the best way to enjoy it — and sometimes sharing, and especially over sharing, in these settings isn’t appropriate. It is all about reading social cues.
If you’re like us, you could go on and on for days about a wine, especially when you notice someone drinking a wine you really love. But before launching into every detail you can possibly think of – from the wine’s origin to the way the winemaker massages every grape, to the names of all of the vineyard employees – ask the person you’re drinking with if this is knowledge they’re actually interested in hearing. We often say something like “I could go on and on for days about this wine, and I am happy to tell you all about it, but if you’d rather just sit back and enjoy it, let me know.” Most of the time our companions are happy to hear the wine’s tale, but every once in a while you get a friend who is genuinely happy you asked and lets you know that for now, they’d love to just let the wine do the talking.
Whenever we’re passionate about anything, from wine to sports to stamp collecting, we can often fall into the trap of assuming everyone else is just as passionate as we are. Often times, however, our companions just want to watch the freakin’ game, without being told every last detail about the athletes playing it. The same is true with wine. We all enjoy it our own way, so if someone simply wants to sit back, relax and sip, don’t feel like you have to share every last detail of the wine’s fermentation story.
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Reading social cues correctly also extends to ordering wine. As people who are passionate about wine, we often take any excuse imaginable to peruse a wine list and make recommendations to our friends, but sometimes our friends want to look at the list themselves and make their own choice. One of the best ways to learn about wine is ordering different things and actually making mistakes as you determine what you like and what you don’t. If someone wants to make their own decision, don’t ruin that for them just because you feel your knowledge would cause you to choose a better wine for them than the one they ordered. If they ask for your help, that’s a completely different story.
In any social situation, simply be aware that just because you might have a bit more knowledge than those around you, it does not give you the right to automatically take the lead. Asking if you may offer your help and advice, instead of declaring what to order outright, is the best way to ensure your companions not only keep inviting you back, but actually want to learn from you. It is incredibly fun to teach others about something we love, so just make sure they want to be taught, because teaching can quickly turn into telling if the other party is not interested.
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