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Men, Please Don't Be Wine Assholes

It's rare that I feel like I'm in a position to give advice to an entire population, but damn it, something needs to be done. My fellow men, you are seriously in danger of royally screwing up your lives. Why? Because your egos get between you and your date and a good glass of wine.

According to new research conducted in the UK, nearly 22 percent of men admit to embellishing their expertise about wine in order to impress their dates. Among 19 to 30 year olds, that number jumps to 29%.

What's even worse, and totally unforgivable is that over 35% of men refuse to let their partner choose wine in a restaurant because they do not trust them to make the appropriate choice.

Sometimes I really am ashamed to be a man. Since when did our masculinity rest on the appropriate wine choice with roasted squab? How inconceivable could it be that our dates or wives might actually know more about wine than we?

Snap out of it, men. Don't be assholes. It's conceivable that you might actually get to the point of knowing something about wine one day, but you're never going to get there by pretending you know it all already. And for those idiots among you who think that somehow it's your manly duty to order the wine -- get over it. Even if she doesn't know more than you, she's probably got a better palate to begin with, not to mention the fact that it wouldn't hurt you to show a little sensibility, flexibility, and humility by exploring the wine list together, let alone the gallantry of asking if she might want to order the wine for the evening.

And if your date happens to be another man, well then all the more reason to demur and let him choose. Or if that's too hard you can offer to arm wrestle for the privilege.

Men of the world, the time has come to relinquish your grip on the wine list, and share the passion with others as equal partners in this journey. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Read the full story.

Comments (23)

Neil wrote:
02.21.07 at 1:09 AM

I've never been ashamed to be a man.

Tim Carlisle wrote:
02.21.07 at 2:00 AM

I tend to have a look at the list and pass it around to see if anyone particularly wants something - more often than not it comes back with a "can you pick for us" attitude.

The big thing here is that different people like different wines - I love good Sauvignon - but my wife doesn't at all - so if we're going white she'll want a say - and so she should - if she's got to drink it she ought to be involved!

Cru Master wrote:
02.21.07 at 3:40 AM

mmm, this is a difficult one and i guess its a fine line we have to tread - especially if another study reveals that wine knowledge makes u sexier


guess u just have to try and read all those mixed signals correctly and get a copy of "men are from mars..." haha

that or make sure the wine is good and drink more of it!

JP wrote:
02.21.07 at 7:31 AM

I feel like there should be a MAN LAW against comments like this article.

Alder wrote:
02.21.07 at 7:45 AM

JP, so you think I'm betraying my gender? ;-)

Ian wrote:
02.21.07 at 8:37 AM

Sorry, Alder. I'll reliquish my grip on the wine list the next time I have a passion for White Zinfindel, or something else with an animal on the label.

I know there are wine-savvy women out there, but they seem to have all moved to Northern California.

skyblu wrote:
02.21.07 at 9:02 AM

Pardon me; must you, (we,) always be constrained by the "ONE" wine solution?

How 'bout his, hers, ours, and the tables?

Silly me!


helenjane wrote:
02.21.07 at 9:12 AM

It seems it's much the same as online forums for web development. Although for the past five years I've worked on mostly female web dev teams, the places I find all the web information are all written and argued by men.

It seems like the ladies I've worked with have been too busy simply *developing* to debate the merits of one css hack over another.

In wine opinions, as in web development, I've noticed men tend to rip each other's ideas and opinions to pieces, mostly in the name of a better product, but uncomfortable for me nonetheless.

(Oh, eRobertParker, I will merely lurk forever.)

From what I've seen of my own gender, I know that in the interest of a smooth evening, I will avoid pushing my opinion.

(Frankly, if he's going to be a wanker about it, he can just order the darn wine.)

John wrote:
02.21.07 at 9:41 AM

There are nuances to this.

asshole: really does know something, however irrelevant it may be to the current context, and is overbearing to the point of not asking if it's ok if he orders.

geek: really does know something, and is so all over the wine list that others ask him to order just to get him to shut the fuck up.

dork: doesn't really know much, but rants on and on about that one wine he had once at that one place and asks the waiter if they have anything "like that wine", usually unfortunately while pointing to the pinots and unwittingly describing a syrah.

dick: puts on a show about soliciting inputs from everybody while keeping a firm grip on the wine list, and causing the process to take twice as long as necessary and robbing everyone of the drink they suddenly need desperately. sometimes difficult to distinguish from an asshole.

dumbass: orders a zin from the "whites" portion of the wine list

JHC wrote:
02.21.07 at 9:46 AM

On a dinner date, the man pays, so the privelege of choosing the wine must be his. (Feminists may object, but they're not asked out on any dates!)

And it's only fitting that the man selects the wine, because his biology allows him to consume and evaluate more wines than the female of the species.
That's because men are generally bigger, and because they metabolize alcohol better than women do, due to sex-linked traits.

As the French say, "Vive la difference!"

Alder wrote:
02.21.07 at 10:44 AM


Firstly, I think while common, the notion that the man always pays is becoming more old fashioned every day, but I don't disagree that the person paying for the meal (man or woman) should have some say in which wine gets chosen, but the data from the study specifically focuses on the fact that a lot of men don't trust their dates to choose, which is ridiculous and sexist.

As for your second comment I can only say that you're gravely mistaken if you think that the ability to metabolize alcohol has anything to do with wine knowledge or the ability to acquire it.

Vino Girl wrote:
02.21.07 at 10:47 AM

Given I am tne "wine asshole" (and a female) in my relationship, I do admit to sometimes having trouble relinquishing control of the wine list in a restaurant.

I do experience another atrocity, however, which is the fact that 9 times out of 10 -- even if I am the one who asks for the wine list, I am clearly the one pouring over it and I am the one asking intelligents questions -- the waiter addresses my husband when it comes time to order the wine. What is that? Sometimes I ignore the waiter's ignorance and proceed as if he were addressing me and sometimes I don't have the energy and just ask my husband to do the ordering.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes it is actually nice when someone else orders the wine. But beware. Although my husband knows a thing or two about wine, the last time he ordered a Cote de Beane, the waiter brought a Côtes du Rhône. The wine was uncorked and poured as my husband unwittingly shook his head yes, agreeing that this was the bottle he ordered. You should have seen my face when I returned from the ladies room. Ok, not the end of the world, but still!

paul wrote:
02.21.07 at 12:47 PM

common courtesy should guide you. treating one's date/dining party with kindnes and respect, acknowledging each individual's level of knowledge, interest, and enthusiasm will always serve you well. after all, the primary goal is to provide pleasure for everyone involved. come on folks, have fun with the wine and quit fetishizing it! siddhartha gautama observed that the string of your instrument should be neither overly tight nor slack, that moderation in all things is the best path :)

caseykja wrote:
02.21.07 at 2:19 PM

frankly, we dont order high end wines at restaurants because they cost too much; if we want something fancy, we bring it with us;
so then it comes down to each of us ordering wine by the glass that we like or asking the waiter what is tasting good;
if we purchase a bottle at a restaurant with a high end wine list, we usu decide what kind of wine we want, and we still end up asking for suggestions so we can get something neither of us has tried before; i simply hate to pay the markup for something i have already tasted at less than half the price

Ram wrote:
02.21.07 at 2:39 PM

It's not about a man thing, Alder. Nor about woman. Or their respective anatomies (with ref to its usage in your title). I'd normally have done it until the reigning politically correct ideology sent me to the other extreme. And then, ofcourse, there was the Manishewicz affair: my stunned silence and the look she reacted with (like, "don't be an asshole, man!). You surely don't want to know more really ....

Sonadora wrote:
02.22.07 at 5:14 AM

I am rolling my eyes at this discussion. Perhaps it's simply a matter of my age, but I had to laugh at the notion that a man always pays for dinner. And that because he supposedly pays he has the right to order the wine. Or that the simple act of paying somehow grants him superior knowledge of wine.

I laugh because I brought my husband to wine in the first place. He would probably still be drinking cheap beer and bad alcohol if left to his own devices. However, because I am a wine-lover, he now has a fairly good palate of his own and is really interested in wine.

I'll roll my eyes, because when my husband was my boyfriend and he was working for free to establish contacts and a name for himself, I paid for everything. Every last dinner out, every bottle of wine, etc. The idea that I would then feel it was my right to order the wine is absurd. Common decency and respect would suggest at the very least acknowledging that someone besides yourself will be drinking that wine, if not, at least in my book, certainly allowing anyone who wants to make a suggestion to do so.

Though I am with vino-girl on her point about being ignored in restaurants. Whenever I order the wine, the server nearly always brings the bottle to my husband for inspection and tasting. It's quite irritating.

JS wrote:
02.22.07 at 4:34 PM

The notion that all wine savvy women live in Northern California is absurd. I live in a little corner of the Pacific Northwest and out of all the women I know (myself included), any one of them could navigate quite nicely through any wine list and not one of them would choose a white zin!

ScottS wrote:
02.22.07 at 8:37 PM

Jim Laube at WS started up a similar thread to this one.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

Now that I'm the family wino I am expected to choose the wine. While I enjoy perusing the list and have more knowledge than anyone at the table, I feel awkward spending other people's money. Sometimes I choose a decent wine at a decent price just to be safe -- but you know that doesn't cut it on a regular basis.

I don't want to impose my tastes, so I ask what people might want to drink, and sometimes it makes them uncomfortable, as if I'm expecting them to engage me on my turf, when I'm really just trying to be nice. The lament of the geek: trying to be helpful but coming off snobby.

But most of the time, any such social politics evaporates when the wine is served. A nice bottle soothes all.

My bf is mellow about it and likes good stuff, which is cool, but I have been pushing my luck on $ outlays for too long. As long as I crack open a good Chard once a month or so I can distract him.

Gosh darn Alder getting me hooked on Rivers-Marie just in time to make the Pinot cut this year. What a great call, man. Just had to say that.

Barrld wrote:
02.23.07 at 3:10 PM

My wife, with her sterling palate, knows little about vintages, producers, varietals. She always trusts me to find a wine that will fit her taste profile. When we're with a group though I sometimes have to restrain myself to keep one of my blowhard friends (fortunately very few) from ordering shit just to show that he (always a male) knows about Napa Cabs for over $150 a bottle from 2000. Having read Vino Girl's and Sonadora's blogs, they both have keen palates and I would galdly defer to whatever they choose. Wine selection should not be about competition but more about shareing something delicious and adventuresome.

Nicole wrote:
02.28.07 at 3:25 PM

Perhaps I'm just fortunate but, I find that most of the people with whom I spend my time are very open to wine suggestions from anyone in a given party. I prefer to believe, however, that the reason for this is that I try to surround myself with open-minded and considerate people. And as for waitstaff who present a bottle to my husband when I have ordered it, they are becoming fewer and further between all the time. Or maybe it's just that I don't return to establishments where that tends to happen :) We all have choices!

Catie wrote:
03.01.07 at 11:12 AM

I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this topic. First of all, thanks for the laughs on something that I have found to be true. If you work in a tasting room long enough - eventually you will run into those wine assholes trying to impress the "little lady" with their wine knowledge. What I discovered is the majority of these "WA's" come into the winery after a long bath of Ralph Lauren aftershave. Therefore, everyone in the tasting room gets to taste a glass of "Polo Cabernet Reserve." Usually as soon as they open their mouths to impress their dates, the more they talk of their wine skills, the less they really know.

(I have stories from my experiences to share on my blog and will use your article as my reference point. Thanks Alder!)

Vino Chick wrote:
09.09.07 at 7:06 PM

I'd highly suggest this,especially on first dates. Be gracious. Wine is meant to be shared and should be fun for everyone to choose.

what 's with the "metabolism" guy? how does that give men a better palate? this type of blatant sexism hopefully will die out with the next generation.

W. Blake Gray wrote:
04.19.10 at 11:29 AM

Is this data surprising? Why, all I have to do is say, "Counoise" and women start flushing and swooning. The other day I mentioned that I got a whiff of raspberry from a Grenache and three women slipped me their phone numbers.

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