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Etiquette

In more ways than one, the incident was very annoying.

I was walking into a local store and you could hear it approaching from over a block away from where we were all standing. Obviously, the cyclist had a message for us and it was in the extreme loudness of his cycle.

People were actually putting their hands over their ears to reduce the blasting sounds of the tail pipes, and on top of that sound was the cycle’s very loud radio speaker. It was not pleasant and the fellow parked right beside the front door.

As we went into the store and got our carts, a line formed as people wiped off the handles of their cart. Suddenly, we were all pushed aside by the owner of the loud cycle. He budged (as we Midwesterners say) in front of everyone and continued on his way without so much as an excuse me.

I’m being very judgmental but where was this guy’s sense of politeness? Didn’t he learn social etiquette along the way?

Back in the day when I was attending elementary school, our teachers made sure we knew good public etiquette. You were silent when someone was talking — no matter how much you agreed or disagreed with that person. You raised your hand to speak. You did not budge in the lunch line or the consequence was you ate last and than meant less time on the playground — actions have consequences.

At home, my parents taught me to always, always take off one’s head gear upon entering a house. Never, never did one wear a cap during an outing at a restaurant. You respected your elders — even if they were stodgy old fools (To use a famous line from that time but now seems so awful!) and women were given the respect of having doors opened for them. Those points are just the tip of the iceberg but you get the message.

Etiquette — we need it now more than ever. So, let’s talk beverage etiquette for a bit.

You have been seated at your favorite restaurant (hopefully soon…) and you are given the wine list. Let’s say you like a blended red and, on the wine list, you see 14 Hands Hot to Trot Smooth Red Blend from Columbia Valley. Boy! That would hit the spot tonight and you order a bottle of it.

The person serving you brings a bottle of the red blend to you and holds it in front of your face. What do you do? The server is asking you if this is what you ordered and, if so, you smile politely and answer affirmatively. She/he pulls the cork from the bottle and pours a small pour into you glass. Now what?

The etiquette of the process dictates you take your glass, see the wine, take a wee sip and give the server the thumbs up to continue pouring. At each step of this protocol, you are honoring the server and the establishment. That’s good public wine etiquette and then, you can enjoy the wine’s dryness that comes along with the firm black cherry taste and a little spiciness at the finish.

All of us have attended a family or public ceremony where the honorees are given a toast. If you’re the one receiving the toast, what do you do? Well, the quick answer is nothing but smile as the glasses are raised in your honor. After the toast, then you can stand, raise your glass to the group and all join in the toast. But first you receive the toast, then you stand to give thanks and finally, everyone raises their glasses of Hahn Chardonnay to toast everyone. Enjoy the moment and excellent tasting wine — both will be memorable.

You’re sitting at home with your significant other and you look at each other over the nice glass of Blackstone Cabernet Sauvignon. You are deep into an interesting conversation and, as you say “Cheers!” and clink your glasses together, what happens then? After the clinking, everything comes to a pause, you take a sip together and then you can continue talking. Don’t talk after the clink — that’s not good wine etiquette. Let the wine do the talking at that point and Blackstone’s nice cherry taste with some bit of toasty nuttiness will speak volumes to you.

I wonder if we all don’t need a bit more public politeness today. Practice it in private and display it in public — we’ll all be better for it.

And, guys, for cripes’ sake, remove that cap in a restaurant!

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!

Cheers!

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