7 People You Don’t Want to Be at a Wine Festival


Fall festival season is in full swing and chances are there is a wine festival or trade wine tasting in your future.

I’ve been going to and speaking at wine festivals all over the country for years. In fact next week I will be at the Hershey Wine & Food Festival and then at Euphoria Greenville the week after. Over the years, I’ve noticed 7 distinct alter egos that can overtake us at these events and I can no longer be silent. Listen, I’m not perfect and I am sure I’ve been guilty of one or more of these but I want to save you the same fate. Take a look and see if any of this sounds familiar.

The Colorist

Do you stick your wine glass out at the wine tasting table and yell “RED” or “WHITE”? Then you might be a colorist, aka a wine drinker that professes to drink only red or only white. Why in the world would you want to limit your choices to just one color? Don’t forget pink—I love dry Rosé. But I digress. I know you probably feel convicted about your ban on other wine colors but studies show that without the visual aspect of the wine’s color you might not even realize whether you are drinking red or white. Consider this; a French study by Gil Morot at the National Institute for Agronomic Research in Montpellier concluded that our perceptions of wine and its flavors or aromas are prejudiced by its color.  It turns out our brains are prone to unconscious synesthesia where our senses become confused.  In this study, participants tasted a white wine and described melons, honey and citrus.  The same wine was then colored red and participants perceived things like berries, leather and tar, which are common aromas in red wine. So give up the ban on whites, reds or pink wines. Instead go to your next wine tasting with an open mind and an empty glass.

The Overzealous Cork Dork (OCD)

OK, you’ve been studying wine, collecting a little and maybe even took a wine certification class. I get it, you are REALLY into wine! That’s awesome but when you and your 100 closest friends are waiting in line at a wine tasting table, that is not the time to wax poetic about your theory on the effects of micro-oxygenation or how you prefer the terroir of a French Burgundy over a California Pinot. Do you see the long line forming behind you? Please do take an interest in the wines being poured but be considerate of others waiting their turn. If you want to correspond with the winery in more detail, get their business card or take a picture of the wine bottle so you can follow up.

The Camper

The Camper is a lot like the OCD but they don’t really care to talk much about the wines. The Camper just wants to taste every single last solitary wine at the table. They also create long lines of pissed off people but are oblivious to that fact. Maybe they are too young to remember the gas lines of the 1970s or maybe they are just really inconsiderate. Either way, if you encounter a Camper, reverse the order of wine tables you’re visiting to get as far away from this person as possible. Of course you might see them later in the day. They’ll be easy to spot because tasting every wine at a festival is a recipe for a train wreck. I learned this lesson the hard way, so here’s a word of wisdom to help you avoid the same mistake. At each tasting or festival pick a priority – for example, “Today I will taste bubblies and tomorrow I’ll focus on crisp whites.” Without having a plan like this, you will live to regret it. Whatever your strategy, though, drink plenty of water and remember that this is a marathon.

The Gadget Crazy

Crescent Duck 2016 Top

Nerds used to be known for button down shirts with pocket protectors. Wine geeks prefer wine themed t-shirts with a wine glass necklace.  A wine glass necklace is a handy invention to keep your glass out of harm’s way in between tastings. PLEASE remove the glass from the holder when you want a tasting pour! Yes, we love your wine glass holding plate, travel wine aerator and nifty wine chilling sleeve, too. Just like in fashion, though, a little goes a long way. If you are sporting more than 2 wine accessories you just might be gadget crazy.

The Money Hungry

Can I taste the most expensive wine you have? This is the most ridiculous question I’ve heard at a wine festival or trade tasting. First off, at many festivals you won’t see high end wines and, even if they are there, that question won’t score you a taste. If you actually take an interest in the winery’s offerings and they enjoy the conversation, you might get to taste something they are keeping under the table. Secondly, price is not the only determination of quality and if that is what you base your wine choices on, then you will be sadly disappointed. In fact, a 2008 study that is outlined in Robin Goldstein’s bookThe Wine Trials found that the majority of the 6000 people in the study enjoyed the more expensive wines LESS! Try asking which wine the winery is known for or tell them what you normally enjoy so they can suggest something you will probably like.

The Grabber

At no point ever are you allowed to grab a bottle off the wine table and pour yourself and your friends a taste! In the same vein, you are never allowed to walk away from a table with a bottle of wine unless instructed to do so by the winery staff. Just because the person working that table had to take a quick bathroom break (with no backup) does not give you the right to steal the wine. Please understand that a ticket to a tasting or festival does not give you license to unlimited wine.  Same goes for decorations, props and wine books on the table.

The Complainer

I know you expected more wines to taste or more expensive wines or there just aren’t enough Chardonnays for you. The complainer will find a way to suck the fun out of this amazing tasting by pointing out all the things they feel are wrong. If this is a trade tasting, be thankful for the opportunity to taste many wines under one roof. You are an invited guest so please act accordingly. However, if you paid to be at a festival and your grievances are real, by all means take it up with the ticket office. Understand, though, that the festival is there to showcase wines of all different types and wineries, not just the one style that you happen to love. One of the advantages of these experiences is that you can find new wines to enjoy. Remember, if you can’t pronounce it, you should be drinking it! So think outside your normal Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Cabernet and try tasting only varieties or types of wine you have never heard of.  You will be rewarded with a whole new list of wines that you love!

Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach, is a certified sommelier, award-winning author and media personality. Forster is the host of her radio show The Sipping Point and her mobile application “The Wine Coach” was listed as one of the Top 8 Wine Apps in Wine Enthusiast. To learn more, visit her website at TheWineCoach.com