This time of year they’re as common as reindeer antlers on a 4WD…  and about as useful. Wine wankers.

They breeze in to your festive occasion – just back from a tour of the Hunter/ Yarra Valley/ Barossa – and loudly announce that all the wines on offer are barely drinkable.
Instead they’ve sniffed out some terrific, limited run tipples made from rare varietals you’ve never heard of.

So why don’t you just have a sip of this cheeky, insolent Viognier/Brachetto/Carmenere and tell me… Can you detect traces of freshly cut grass/calico/unripe pineapple and singlet?

My advice?

Reach for your favourite screw top bottle of cheerful Chardy made out of crushed grapes, leave this tosser in the corner to bore for Australia and party on!

Don’t let any wine wanker tell you the wine you like is out of fashion, too cheap, too common, too… well anything really.

There a just a few things you have to know about wine.

  • Do you like the taste of it?
  • Does it compliment the food you’re eating?
  • Can you afford it?
  • And that, my wine-loving friends, is about it.
  • That said, this is the time of year when we’re often off to sit-down dinner party and it’s good to come up with something that surprises and delights your hosts.

I’ve got a few rules I follow as a dinner party guest (and I’d love to hear yours!)

If you’re offering to bring wine it’s thoughtful to ask what’s being served and bring something suitable.

Pretty simple: Red wine with meat and white wine with fish or seafood. If you’re having Italian or French, you could bring along something from that region.
However, if you’re like most of my busy friends and aren’t able to offer a clue, just bring along something you enjoy.

And if you like Chardonnay? Don’t be worried that everyone’s moved onto Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris. Be a rugged individualist. Although don’t expect everyone to exclaim: “Blue Nun! Marvellous. Haven’t had that since I was at uni!”

If you know your friends are French champagne lovers, don’t bring a bottle of domestic sparkling and insist it tastes “just as good”. 

Let them show off with the real stuff. They’ve probably broken the bank to buy it because they think you’re special.

Be suitably appreciative. Oooh and aaah over the delectable treat!

And NEVER take a glass of wine that you know is expensive and leave it half-drunk. This is a pet hate of mine. The hostess (if it’s me) will probably neck your left-overs later in the kitchen and that’s not fair because flat, warm Veuve Cliquot is a crime against humanity.

Do NOT insist that your hosts open your bottle. Doesn’t matter how desperate you are to drink it. Once it’s out of your hands, it’s a gift. It’s no longer “your” wine.

If you buy your BFF a hat, do you insist she wears it at the table?

I’ve had people saunter into the kitchen and open their own bottle and bring it to the table, which I reckon is the height of rudeness.

If your hosts want to save the bottle of rare vino you brought back from your recent trip to Umbria and use it in tomorrow’s pasta sauce? Bad luck. Bring flowers next time.

Although you could say: “I’ve got a beautiful drop here that I’d love to share with you.”

And while you’re talking about that special bottle you’ve brought along …try not bore everyone rigid with how you came to choose it.

“The vigneron showed me the actual vine in soil with a PH acid level of blah, blah, blah.”
Let the wine speak for itself.

Besides, if no-one likes the stuff you’re going to feel like a dill.


NEVER mention how much it did or didn’t cost.

“Mmm, this is lovely!”

“Yeah got it by the case and it works out at three bucks a bottle.”


Likewise, when you’re offered a glass of the host’s wine, DON’T hold it up to the light, sniff it, swish it around your gob etc. as if your host is a sommelier in a fancy restaurant.

You’re in someone’s home, you wanker.


If you don’t like the wine?

Tough. Are you going to send your meal back to the kitchen too?

And finally, never, EVER attempt to take home your bottle if it hasn’t been drunk.

Same with beer – if you take a six-pack and only drink one? Too bad. Host scores a bonus gift. (Next you’ll be stashing the half-eaten box of after dinner mints in your handbag. P.S. Does anyone bring those along these days?)

And it should go without saying – don’t get pissed.

Or, at least, more pissed than the host – and that means if you’re at my house, you’re up for a pretty good night!



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  • Reply December 11, 2012


    I think it is the height of rudeness for a guest to sniff and swirl and judge a glass of wine you give them. If you’re a guest, accept the wine as part of your hosts hospitality – if you don’t particularly care for it just drink less – put up and shut up in other words. That bottle you brought over yourself is a kind gift to the host and does not need to be seen or mentioned again for that night.

    All that said, my tip is to grab hold of a friend who knows their wine and where to get it cheap. Stock up on what they recommend (if you like it too) and you can’t go wrong really. Lovely wine – even wine found at wineries in the hunter etc – can still be cheap (less than $30) so there’s no snobbery involved.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    You can’t go wrong with the old adage: eat, drink, be merry. Not sure if I agree with the ‘don’t get pissed’ rule though – that’s a bit harsh!

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    claudette MacDonald Lopez

    Wine and other booze Etiquette! You are a champion on the truthful telling. Just too many can afford to buy but don‘t have a clue on the graces. Well Said Harmer‘s Hoopla.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    robyn cheah

    Wendy, my sentiments exactly , there are so many wine wankers out there that pretend to know alot about wine . Their just repeating what they hear and really have no …….idea what there drinking. French sav/blc a must in my fridge, or spanish rose, Mmmmm my mouth is watering… Ummm is it too early for a glass??? Never!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Well said!!! I swear some people just sipple on tipples that they don’t even like. Mmm… wet hay.. delish. Give me a well oaked chardy any day and save your judgement for the people who insist they detect notes of burnt tar in their grape juice.
    Love it.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    So guests taking home the partially consumed cleanskin that resided in front of them at the table [and reluctantly shared] is right out?

    • Reply December 11, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Hahhah! Pretty much, you cheapskate. Merry Christmas!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Great read! So true. But I’ve got a friend who shows up with that cheap, sweet low alcohol stuff that looks like Ribena and she serves white wine at room temperature. Room temperature! I’m not a wine snob but come on… I’m also not a hobo.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Caroline B

    Another great article Wendy! Can’t agree more, especially re not leaving half glasses of the expensive stuff!

    One more thing that gets up my goat? The wine hog who hoovers up the expensive bottle that you bring to share while everyone else is on the 1st glass – leaving their own crappy $10 bottle on the table for everyone else. You people know who you are – bad form!!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    I have had one guest not only wander into the kitchen to get the corkscrew to open the wine he had brought (I thought as a gift for the hosts!), but he then proceeded to pour it into the wineglasses on the dining room table while we were all still sitting around the lounge room having an aperitif. When his bottle was finished, the wine we had carefully chosen and decanted before the meal was then passed off as “not really much good” by our guest. Not very gracious guest behaviour methinks.

    • Reply December 11, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      OOOOH, deserves throttling. WINE WANKER ALERT.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Miss brown

    My girlfriends and I could never be accused of being wine wankers- ricadonna ruby or a nice moscato goes down a treat every time!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    When did sav blanc become the latest ‘thing”, pass me a chardy please and dont try to convert me!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Just spotted your wine poll: When is the best wine time?

    Why isnt there a button for ‘All of the above’? 😉

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    What’s a “corkscrew” Gwen? :-). Geez I have a relly like that, takes home the 1/3 of a bottle of his homemade crap if we have moved on. Actually he’s the only one who will drink the pain stripper anyway, so I guess it’s not wasted.
    Can’t stand room temperature pinot noir, unless the room temperature is 10C or less 🙁

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Simon McInerney

    Wine etiquette: “Bring a bottle.” As with “bring a salad” it must be served. If it’s crap, open a selection of bottles allowing guests to help themselves. If wine is brought unprompted it’s at the host’s discretion to serve. Wine brought in a gift bag or wrapped means do not serve, enjoy it yourselves at a later date.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Please chill your reds a bit!!! Any drink at 30C ++ is horrid, including red wine. Much nicer when chilled a little.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Unless its coffee Nat, I totally agree.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Thank Deity that I grew up in a family of teetotalers. Less nonsense to put up with at family parties.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Before the age of the screw top….I thought opening a bottle of wine with a cork screw was being helpful…..I have now been put right (again).

    On the subject of champagne~ did you know about how to open? After removing the cage, holding the cork, and turning the bottle?

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    On the subject of alcohol etiquette, giving the gift of alcohol to someone suffering alcohol dependance is probably not a good idea. Why not take along some lovely sparkling mineral water?

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Or white tea?!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Just in case you didn’t get it~ I was joking…as much as I like sparkling mineral water with a dash of lemon~ it is not O.K to demonise others~ especially at this fragile time of the year.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    I’m with Michelle P, ” All of the above” answer for the wine poll 🙂

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Christine Gates

    Roll on Christmas lunch with friends and see who brings what wine with the Glazed Ham and Roast duck – red white pink is all ok !! Here in Hanoi any Oz wine is welcomed

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Will Marshall

    Hahaha, Wine wankers! glad I will never be one of them, as I’m a bundy man!!

    • Reply December 12, 2012

      Mick Turner

      Wine wankers v Bundy Bogans – think I’ll stay home.

  • Reply December 12, 2012

    Brie Wiessner

    How about wine with dinner?

    Hoopla articles and opinions are excellent.

    Thank you….Brie

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  • Reply February 15, 2013

    gabii p davis

    WENDY, i share similar views about wine wankers! check out my blog post at and lets spread the word!

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