Stop Swirling Your Wine
There should be a punishment for those who swirl their glass of wine in public.
I am not just unimpressed by those who swirl their wine upon receipt, I despise their petty desire to be deemed “sophisticated.” There was a time in my life when I might have viewed this action as only slightly obnoxious. I too chased meaningless tokens of prestige, seeking refinement over the prole. In fairness, there was also a point in my life when I discovered that I was allergic to the tannins in red wines, a revelation that only came to me after five successive weekends of becoming violently ill upon drinking the liquid poison.
Does my anti-swirling position derive from some envy deep within me? Perhaps. But I link it more to memories of those opposite me at social events, when I grew more nauseous from the subjects of conversation than the tannins being released from my interlocutor’s compulsion to let his or her wine breathe.
I was at a fundraiser in Seattle once when I was speaking with a man named Oliver who wore a corduroy blazer and taught at Lewis & Clark College. A waiter poured Pinot Noir into his glass and Oliver swirled. He kept swirling, all the while carrying on about his newfound obsession with Peter Sarsgaard movies and his recent discovery that his daughter had run off with a cashier from Yankee Candle Company.
I understand the compulsion to swirl. Wine needs to oxidate and release the aromas and other gifts bestowed on the magical elixir. There are exceptions to my hardline position. Certain situations may call for swirling, like dining with Francis Ford Coppola, attending a wine tasting with James Suckling, or after playing pickleball with Roger Federer. But swirling is not acceptable in most scenarios, like when the bottle has been purchased at a store that also hawks Little Debbie Cakes and fireworks, or at a restaurant whose menu has been created in some corporate office outside of Frisco, Texas, next to a strip mall containing Payless Shoes.
I understand there are situations that toe the line. A good bottle opened at a restaurant with a minimum score of 4.5 on OpenTable might warrant a swift brief swirl. More than three seconds of swirling warrants a fine. After more than six seconds of swirling, I am rooting for the blowhard next to us, who criticizes the Tapas menu as being an instrument of Cancel Culture and who rants about how the letter V needs to be deleted from the alphabet due to its unfettered arrogance. More than eight seconds and the busboy, the one whose eyes tell the childhood story of cock fights and stolen elections, should be allowed to waterboard you. After ten seconds of swirling and I’m unabashedly rooting for the wine. I am hoping it splashes over the side of the glass and onto the white pristine tablecloth. A public faux pas by one seeking attention rather than nourishment.
*For each moot, we generate a cover image using DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'Stop Swirling Your Wine' in the style of Paul Cézanne, Christopher's artist of choice.*