Newport Manners & Etiquette: Wine Glass Etiquette, Rudeness, & 8 Faux Pas

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


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How to hold a wine glass, handle common faux pas, respond to rudeness, and what happens when a vegan falls in love with a meat-eater were all questions to Didi Lorillard this week at NewportManners.

Beyond conventional wine glass etiquette

Q. What is the correct way to hold a glass of wine? It's confusing because I was taught to hold a wine glass by its stem because holding the glass by the bowl warms the wine, but everywhere I look, whether in a pub, fancy restaurant or party, most people are holding on to that bowl of wine and not the stem. What is the modern etiquette for holding a wine glass?  AG, Providence


A. There are actually those who believe that knowing how to hold a wine glass correctly is an integral part of having good table manners. It's as important as eating food using good table manners. And that the manner in how you hold your wine glass says a lot about who you are. The truth is that many of us are apparently holding our wine glasses incorrectly. But with further investigation, I would say maybe not. I'm speaking from beyond conventional etiquette and manners.

Yes, if you are seated at a dinner party or restaurant you would take care in lifting your wine glass off the table by gently clenching the post between the bowl and the stand with your fingers, and then resting the glass with care after taking a sip. 

However, if you're at a mixer event where you're on your feet socializing, networking, and shaking hands, the situation is different. Holding the post (or stem) of the wine glass is riskier than cupping the bowl with your hand. This way you can keep the red wine from tippling over onto your mother-in-law's white rug.

  • Wine experts say that holding the bowl of the wine glass warms the wine - and especially with chilled white wine, rosé, or champagne - should simply NOT be done.
  • I, on the other hand, say the exception should be that when you're on your feet in a crowded space and you don't want to dribble your wine on someone or have someone bump into your glass - cup the bowl from underneath.


How-to guide for handling 8 common faux pas 

Q. Nobody is a bigger klutz than I am. When I can't remember a person's name at a conference, fall-over an antique end table at a holiday party, or arrive home to find food on my new tie that hadn't been there when I left, I'm mortified that I may have been walking around with this unseemly splotch. What do you say after "I'm sorry"?  Name Withheld


A. Here are eight tips that should help you handle or simply avoid the next faux pas that comes your way:

  • When you've forgotten someone's name:  In a group setting socially or in business, bring someone else into the conversation and the two other people will introduce themselves to each other when you say, "Do you two know each other?"  Or ask for her/his business card or to enter their contact info into your phone. Lastly, admit that you're having a "senior moment."
  • When you've taken a fall in public:  As quickly as possible stand up and shake it off with a laugh. Humor and humility go hand in hand. Before wearing new shoes to an event, scuff up the soles by wearing them outside the house first.
  • When you spill a drink or food:  We're all human and we all make mistakes. Make a fast recovery by offering to clean up or pay for the dry cleaning, if you happen to have spilled red wine on your colleague's skirt-suit. A bit of humor goes a long way in relieving the sense of embarrassment that you feel. The same goes for those witnesses who feel for you.
  • When you've forgotten a birthday, social event or left a good friend off your guest list:  With great sincerity say, "Please, forgive me." Even with the best of intentions sometimes we find ourselves so busy that we forget an important milestone, occasion or good friend.
  • When you discover anything you wouldn't want a boss or lover to see: Check your privacy settings on all social media outlets and delete, delete any post, photo or video that could be potentially embarrassing whether it involves alcohol, drugs, too much flesh, sex, or is too religious or too politically left or right wing.
  • When you've mistakenly responded to Reply All:  In a group email, if you make a misstate send a follow-up email apologizing or make it more personal with a phone call or a short notecard.
  • When you falsely assume someone is pregnant:  Never assume anyone is pregnant, has been pregnant, and will be pregnant. Furthermore, refrain from asking about children unless a man or woman has hinted at the fact that they have children. It's a huge faux pas. So don't say, "Do you have children?"
  • When you have a wardrobe mishap:  A broken high heel, store tag hanging off the back of that new sweater, or that the décolleté of your dress is too deep when you're seated, take it as a reminder to do a serious wardrobe check and make sure any fallen hem or shredded pant cuff is mended before worn again.


How to respond to rudeness

Q. How do you react to rudeness? Do you respond by being rude back? Do you call the person out about their rude behavior? Or do you simply ignore the person?  Arlene, Philadelphia

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A.  Right back to you. Should politeness and manners really require great effort, or should a person be unconsciously instinctive? Quite frankly there are times when we're irritable because we're stretched for time, grouchy from not enough sleep, or grumpily struggling with some mundane task, and we're plain and simple not feeling considerate of others. There are times when anger gets the better of us.

You received an unpleasant email or phone call, a door was slammed in your face, another driver cuts in front of you. Whatever the provocation, when someone is rude it can push us over the edge, but don't let it get under your skin. Don't let it boil your blood to the point where you become intolerant and retaliate. Think rationally. You have three choices:

  • Respond with rudeness: What do you do when someone is rude to you? Fight fire with fire? Tweet with an even more offensive retort? No, social media tweets are not an art form, but simply a way to let off steam. Don't bother with sarcasm or aggression as it won't help you professionally. If the person is habitually rude, at another time when you've simmered down, talk to him/her about texting during meetings, or being perpetually late for dates.
  • Call him/her out on their rudeness:  If you confront the person about their rudeness, do it humorously or politely. Use tact. "How are doing?" "What's up with you?" It goes without saying that you wouldn't confront the person in front of colleagues or socially.
  • Ignore the rudeness: Especially if it is a single incident, thoughtlessness, or sheer ignorance, such as picking their nose. An exception would be if it was an ongoing problem that needed to be addressed. In that case, the issue will only fester and get progressively worse if ignored. So, it would be better to have a polite conversation. 


As the saying goes, "Rudeness is the weak person's imitation of strength."

When strict vegan falls madly in love with a big meat-eater

Q. Should vegans date meat-eaters? Is it too much of an issue in a relationship? I'm actually afraid to include the fact that I'm vegan on my dating website profile, out of fear that I will be perceived as being too finicky. But when I find out after falling in love with some guy online that he's a real meat-eater, I can't imagine what life with him would be like?

A.  Look into a recent new dating app Hinge, which declares that it is the "anti-Tinder." Its motto, "We have swiped left on swimming and are on a mission to truly connect people in a digital world" with similar commonalities.

  • Communication is key: In an un-preachy way, people need to know how important veganism is to you. It's about others being able to understand where you're coming from. If you're going to live together you totally need to be clear about what you are and are not OK with.
  • For instance, would you mind having any non-vegan products in the house? If that's potentially going to be a huge issue, he should know that because it won't make sense buying two of everything.
  • Would you ever cook meat for him?
  • If he doesn't understand why you're a vegan or disses you for it, then you're wasting your time on him.
  • In that case, you might want to look into Grazer, a dating app for herbivores.


Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners.


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