It never fails. A visitor from just about anywhere comes to New Orleans, fully expecting good food, fantastic live music, pleasant climate, historic surroundings, and they go home remembering…..the people of New Orleans.
In my travels, I am always on the receiving end of comments about how polite, kind and proud of their city are the people of New Orleans. I think for most of us, we are taken, just a little bit, by surprise that this aspect of our society is an item that sticks in people’s minds.
We live in this place and every day we see examples of quite the opposite. But these rude behaviors are truly no big deal when compared to what goes on in other towns. I am not excusing boorish actions on the road, or walking along, or waiting in line; but, again, compared to actions in other places, which I shall not mention, Southern gentility lives here.
I like being greeted by strangers as “Baby,” and I like some clerk taking an extra effort to assist. I like that nod of the head, an acknowledgement, when two sets of eyes meet. I adore lagniappe and I can go on for hours about admiring some thing with the owner saying, “You like it? Take it.” We are, by nature, a fine group of neighbors. Oh yes, there are some who go through it all with an “attitude” but, in general, I think New Orleanians are good folks, considerate, and that we live it every day because it is ingrained, an integral part of who we are.
It is why, I think, when some of us get into certain situations and we don’t act correctly it is only because we don’t know any better.
One of those situations is when we are at a wine or spirits tasting, or at a festival; we can be a bit pushy or inconsiderate. Again, no names but some of you, and I am giving you the benefit of the doubt here, just don’t do right.
A few tips to help you enjoy the adult beverage tasting experience even more, and not hack off your fellow attendees in the process:
- Go easy on the toiletries. No need to bathe in after-shave or perfume. You smell fine and don’t offend – don’t worry. Perfume, which is the bigger culprit here, overwhelms whatever delicate bouquets from the wine or the whiskey your fellow-attendees are trying to find and enjoy. That’s part of the fun. The overwhelming sweet smell of lavender or gardenias is an unwanted intrusion.
- Your opinions and prior experiences count….to you. The person behind the counter pouring you product or providing a lecture is really being very nice listening to your tale. The person behind you in line waiting to enjoy the product may not be so interested or nice. If you must share a fascinating story from the past, step out of the area and allow others to come forward while you tell the riveting story off to the side of the action.
- In a similar vein, after you have received the “communion” of the beverage, don’t sit there and taste and consider what your opinion will be. Step aside and ponder how you feel about what’s now in your glass. Share your opinion, but don’t block the people behind you from receiving the liquid at least during this calendar year.
- If you are going to make a statement, at least be reasonably certain what you are sharing is, at the minimum, half-right. Otherwise, make your statement into a question. You have come to the event to learn. Take advantage of the opportunity.
- Your mother did not come to the event, or you did not invite her. She will not be following you around taking your discard plastic tasting glasses and dirty napkins and placing them into the trash bins. No one wants to “bus” your mess. When you are done with a cup or napkin, toss it in the right place, namely a trash can.
- Short and to the point: No smoking of any kind at a tasting. And that most certainly goes for those stinky cigars, which you are likely smoking only to prove that you are a member of the clan. This rule applies to both inside and outside events. You can argue with me all you want, but smoking at an event featuring beverages and food is inconsiderate, even when the event itself sells cigars.
- Stop drinking before you have had too much. You know the “over-served” feeling and you know the disorientation. I’ll bet you really don’t like it any more than we don’t like seeing you with it. The expression fits: know when to say when.
- Lastly, when the event is over, leave. Don’t hang around asking for more of anything. In particular, don’t ask for bottles of product. That puts the people who have been your hosts and pourers in a tough spot, maybe even in an illegal position. At the appropriate moment, to paraphrase the sign, Be Nice and Leave.
I do not chalk up bad manners at an alcohol tasting event to lack of class or selfishness. I do attribute bad behavior to a lack of knowledge about how to act in public. It could even be a reflection on your upbringing. And I have no desire to say anything bad about your Mama.
You are now an adult, act like it.
Read Happy Hour here on MyNewOrleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored, at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life" every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Aired episodes are available for viewing here.