Wine tasting, and the difference between downtowners and everyone else

If you ever need to find me on Sunday, it’s real easy – go to the downtown Blue Monkey on Front Street. I get there about noon and order a bottle of champagne and orange juice, make mimosas, and catch up with the other downtowners who come in.

Last Sunday I was there and noticed a card sitting on the bar. “WINE TASTING – 5:30 PM.” Sounds interesting, I thought, so I decided to hang out until then.

So at 5:30 I tabbed out at the bar and went into the back room for the tasting. I paid my $15 and took a seat. The Monkey’s day shift manager, who got off at 5:30, also stuck around and sat at the table with me. There were about 12-15 people at the other tables, and I found out that they came from Collierville and Cordova.

There were six wines, two white and four red. The sommelier, in my opinion, did an excellent job – rather than the tiny sips they usually pour at wine tastings, this guy was pouring full glasses. Only problem was, the tasting was moving along at a brisk pace, about 5-7 minutes between wines. I had to have an empty glass ready by the time the next bottle came around, and I know better than to slam glasses of wine, especially red wine. So I had to do something that goes against everything I believe in – I had to pour the remainder into the discard bucket in the middle of the table.

As the wine began to flow, everyone loosened up and started joking around. “Look at all those different wines in the discard bucket,” commented the day shift manager. “It’s like a Diver from Silky O’Sullivan’s.”

So the tasting went on….three, four, five, six wines. Each time I had to pour out about half my glass to be ready to move on. I enjoyed the tasting thoroughly but was a bit disappointed to see so much of my $15 investment in that discard bucket.

So I did what, to me, seemed like the logical thing…I picked up the bucket and poured myself a glass.

The people at the other tables were appalled. “What are you doing?” they asked. “That’s the throwaway bucket!” I’m sorry, but I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was only sharing the bucket with one other person, who happened to be a friend of mine. How is that any different from taking a sip from a glass that she just drank from, which I do all the time with my friends. I wouldn’t have done it if people I didn’t know were also using the bucket.

Over the past week, I’ve told this story to numerous people and have noticed two distinct reactions. About half the people have responded, “You drank out of the wine bucket, what’s wrong with that? You paid for it, after all.” Nearly all of those people live downtown.

The other half have said, “Paul! What’s wrong with with you? Drinking out of the discard bucket is just gross! Wine tastings are classy events, you need to act appropriately when you attend one.” Almost none of the people who responded this way live downtown – they live out east, in the suburbs, or (surprisingly) in Midtown.

So there you have it. The difference between downtown and the rest of the city. I’m glad I’ve picked a neighborhood that shares my attitude and values.