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Food & Dining // Vino Sense
Roberto Viernes

Mixed Message: Phones At Wine Dinners

So I am hosting a wine dinner at one of our local Italian restaurants, and between courses I notice that almost everyone is tapping away on their phones. I know that there are some restaurants that refuse to serve guests while they are on their phones or there are no-cell phone zones, and I totally “get it.” The food and the wine are the centerpiece of the evening, and the restaurant and more so the chef and perhaps even the sommelier want to make sure that all the attendees are fully engaged with the food and wine at hand. That being said, I must say that it really does not bother me.

I know that life happens at any place and time, so when the babysitter texts to ask where the extra blankets are or a co-worker needs to reconfirm an appointment, it is totally fine by me. But what I love to see guests at wine dinners doing is actually sharing these moments with their friends. I love it when a guest tells me that they just took a picture of a dish and the wine pairing and sent it to a friend. Most do it in the spirit of sharing. Some, I suspect, also do it to make others jealous. Social networking and online sharing knows no bounds, and food and wine are just another part of it.

I myself enjoy taking pictures at dinners, especially of the rare and mind-blowing wines that we partake in. When people ask me what I have been drinking lately, I get to show them exactly what I have been drinking. My wife calls it “wine porn.” I must admit that when my friends see the pictures, they usually elicit some strong reactions. I am very blessed to drink some of the world’s finest wines. And sometimes others share their “wine porn” with me and even I am impressed!

I have seen some people actually blog during wine dinners. They are on their smart phones taking notes and posting them immediately after the dinner is done. I just hope they’re enjoying the food and the wine together, especially if I did the food and wine pairing personally. But I think it is great for bloggers since the experience is so fresh in the mind and palate they can put them into words for others to (hopefully) enjoy as well.

People are often looking up more information on the wines that they are enjoying – pricing, critical acclaim and other producer information that they may have a yearning desire to know and share with others at the table. They enlighten me as well with additional information. Yes! I am always learning.

What I do not like about phones during dinners is when someone has to share their conversation that they are having on the phone with the rest of the diners. I certainly do not need to know about how your dog chewed up your shoe or what time your tee time is tomorrow. That is something that you do not need to share with everyone else. But otherwise, using your phone during a wine dinner is cool with me.

Recommendations: Sommariva Prosecco Brut ($15) I do not recommend any Prosecco lightly, but this one truly impresses me. It has generous and seamless fruit flavors that go from beginning to end with no bitter edges. It carries its weight elegantly almost like Champagne, and the aromas of apples, citrus and flowers are nothing short of impressive. 2011 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon ($16) This is a frontrunner for VALUE WINE OF THE YEAR. Gobs of black and blue fruit come through on the nose with a lovely viscous and mouth coating texture to boot.

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