Elizabeth must have stubbed her toe on a bedpost immediately before reading Hitchens’ recent Slate column, otherwise I can’t see why she would use this blog as a forum to rant and rave about an article that I thought highlighted an important point about wine service in restaurants. Let me preface this by saying that I have no expectations regarding the content of “Fighting Words” so I can’t speak to whether or not it is a serious departure from his normal musings. Certainly if i was accustomed to a journalist writing within a particular genre I would be annoyed by any egregious changes as well. If Bill Simmons starts blogging about the Democratic Primary I’ll tune out in a heartbeat.

That said, Hitchens makes at least one legitimate point. Waiters should always ask before pouring. I don’t need or want to pour wine myself, but I’d appreciate the wine not being needlessly dumped into the abyss that is some female to remain un-named’s glass. Hitchens’ complaint about having conversations interrupted is less interesting. Annoyance with this act will increase in direct proportion with the arrogance of the speaker. But I think it’s important to understand that waiters are there to sell you wine and that they have occasionally obnoxious techniques that they employ to do so. If a few acts of defiance would curb this practice, then I’m all for it.


Christopher Hitchens must have been in the middle of telling the joke of a lifetime when he was rudely interrupted by a sommelier eager to fill his glass. Otherwise, I can’t see why he would use his weekly Slate column to criticize waiters and wine pushers at restaurants. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hitchen’s Slate column, “Fighting Words,” it is usually dedicated to politics, human rights, religion, or other seemingly important topics. This week’s column called, “Wine Drinkers of the World Unite,” is a meditation on how waiters inappropriately interrupt people in restaurants. They rudely ask people if they want more wine, or, even worse, just pour it without asking and then ask if they’d like another bottle. Hitchens feels this is intrusive, sleazy, and a whole host of other bad things. He acknowledges that there are worse problems in the world, but feels that this one could be solved so easily, that we should unite behind a cause and put waiters in their place. As a regular Hitchens reader, I’m a bit taken aback. This might be annoying for Hitchens, but is he serious? First of all, this is not an important issue. I love wine as much as the next person (though perhaps not as much as Hitchens, who is known to be a bit of a drinker), but I couldn’t care less whether the wine is poured for me or I pour it myself. Second of all, some people want to be served wine. That’s why they went to a restaurant and didn’t eat at home. Some people actually hold off on pouring wine so that the waiter has the opportunity to do it for them. I guess my conclusion is that Hitchens should start a blog for these mundane gripes. He sounds a little too Seinfeldian for a highly-read column in Slate.

This article in Slate a couple days ago really cut to the core of me.

“And nowhere are the wine snobs more insufferable than in the comparatively low-income, tweedy precincts of university humanities departments”

I need to take a long look in the mirror and reflect on whether or not I’ll be able to stand the image I’ll project as a liberal arts college professor with a food and wine blog. F.