Here is a personal, Australian viewpoint on being presented with a wine bottle by the wine-waiter.
We have all done it at one time, guilty of pretending we know what it’s all about. We look it up and down, dissect it with a pseudo-critical eye, and perhaps even a raised eyebrow for dramatic effect. But we are really delaying the inevitable and hoping that others’ attention will deviate somewhere else when we finally profess ourselves. Narrowing down the choices, based of course on our extremely limited knowledge, . . . . , we point with a slightly shaky finger and say in the most self-assured voice we can muster: “We’ll take that one”. Barely daring to make eye contact with the sommelier/waiter, we recoil slightly and hope that their tolerance for the ridiculousness of our scam will override their growing desire to embarrass us with a telltale smirk and “very well” type comment.
What is it about wine that scares some of us to the point of routinely enduring this sort of fiasco and potentially ego-demolishing occurrence? We never hesitate to review a menu and ask about preparations regarding our meals, but asking for guidance when selecting a wine seems to be just as appealing as the thought of peeling 30 pounds of garlic on a sweltering day. Is it that we evaluate wine differently than we do food? That we perceive food as the core and wine as an add-on to the consumption experience? If so, then we acknowledge that we can develop a taste for wine but do not have to as we might for food. Metaphorically, food is like our immediate family and wine is like our extended family.
We are born into a family, and so we acquire tastes and preferences related to the family institution in which we were brought up. We love our relatives and dislike them as well, but we can never avoid them completely. We may skip past certain dishes at the family buffet but regardless of the occasion, they have a way of making their presence known – their smell permeating occasions. They inherently become part of our genealogical recipe, incorporating their influence, direct or indirect, into our everyday choices and decisions. As a result of their existence and our inability to evade them, we opt to understand them, to breakdown their qualities and characteristics and identify the aspects of them that we enjoy and those we loath. We learn to work with them, to endure them, to tolerate them. Likewise, when we go out to eat, if we cannot find the perfect dish on the menu, we ask the waiters to explain the dishes in order to ensure that we know how to tackle the plate when it is presented to us and enjoy the meal in our own way.
Wine on the other hand is new to the epicurean equation, something that if we want, we can exclude or embrace wholeheartedly. More often than not, we are imposed a wine, and it can happen that the pairing of wine and food is offensive, sometimes bordering on unpalatable. At other times, the revelation of the coupling of fare and libation is enlightening. It is also possible that even if we don’t really like the food option, wine can make the consuming it worthwhile. Similarly, when a family member decides to incorporate another into the family batter, we are required to greet them but not obliged to like them. We can take the time to discover the multiple layers of their personalities, or to give them a forum to exhibit the bouquet of their disposition, but at our pace. In fact, it may take years for significant others to mature enough for us to learn to appreciate them and love them in all their glory. So we may hold back, keep our opinions of them in the dark cellars of our minds, and hope that one day, they will divulge themselves as worthy of our patience.
In some families, food is sufficient because those who make them up are people who are enough of a challenge. In other families, the spices and aromas of wine that extended members contribute stimulates and improves the dynamics and makes interactions so much more appealing. The curiosity to find out why those closest to us selected an Australian [wine bottle] companion over the French exchange student [imported wine bottle] can be scary as it can be rewarding – it all depends on the questions we are prepared to ask and the possibilities we are willing to explore. It is a gamble and one not suited to everyone. Yet ... although it might be easier to digest the common, why not be open to the potential benefits of exploring new terroir?
The piece is not available now but you can see where it came from at
There is a similar gastronomic put-down on page 160 of "Gastronomy" via "Pubs" [Publications} in the top panel. Click Chapter 9 and go back one page. [Put the page you are reading now on a tab.] This gastronomy website offers reassurance in the form of pages which may help improve confidence. Not least of these is "Society - 2" which recommends a food society.